They Call Me Friend
Who would you call a friend? Over the years with me having psoriasis this was a question that always stayed with me. I didn’t think I had a friend in the world years ago; most of the time I was depressed and felt hopeless.
Kids are cruel
In school, many people didn’t want me as a friend because of my “rash.” My psoriasis was very flaky and parents didn’t want their kids around me. They feared I was contagious and didn’t want their child around the kid with the bad skin. One parent said I had an unsightly appearance.
As I enter into my pre-teen years; things went from bad to worst. Kids were mean and never gave a thought to what they said or care about my feelings. I did have a couple of friends, but no one to hang out with and tell my deepest secrets. I had friends for years that didn’t know my whole body was covered in scales. I kept this nightmare to myself.
It was easier for me to be a friend to other people. I would pick them. They would tell me their problems and secrets. I learned to be a good listener and give good advice. There were days I would daydream about having lots of friends, and we would all lay on the beach all day in the summer. I just wanted to escape this life of having this terrible disease and always being the center of attention. Of course, this never happened.
An unexpected friendship
I remember one day being in the mall as a teenager, alone, sad, and depressed. I was not only a physical wreck, but an emotional wreck too. I cried every day. I remember this nice lady started talking to me. She said, you know there is something very unique about you. We struck up a friendship, and I began to tell her stories about my life and having psoriasis. I had never talked about my disease to anyone; I was ashamed and embarrassed. She was in awe of my story, and we became life-long friends. She didn’t have psoriasis, but she shared with me that she had stage 2 cancer.
I remember her telling me how glad she was to have met me at the mall on that day. She told me she had wanted to die, but saw me and I looked like I needed a friend more. She said her fear of having cancer diminished when she heard my story about having psoriasis and being all alone in this world.
Becoming an advocate
My friend shaped me and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a voice for psoriasis. I didn’t know how I would do this, but knew I was going to do something. I didn’t want anyone to have to go through what I had to endure.
I have been called a friend plenty of times since that turning point in my life. Why? Because on this journey of being a patient with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, I know what it’s like to be alone. I know what it’s like to walk the floor at night and cry in pain. I know what it’s like to be pointed at, talked about and feel the world has forgotten you.
I made it my business years ago to be an advocate for this disease. If you feel alone, join a support group and stay connected to the psoriasis community. It will help to talk to people like you. Over the years I have met numerous people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis who are alone. You never know who you can help.
Over the years I have been that ear that will hear what’s really going on. I go back to my friend who I met that day in the mall. If I had a closed mind that day, I would never have made a friend.
Do you anxiously anticipate a psoriasis relapse?