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Annelyse Andal

Psoriatic Arthritis Community Advocate Annelyse AndalI am Annelyse, 24 years old, a psychology graduate, and a law student from the Philippines. In 2020, specifically just half a semester away from graduation, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. This made me decide to temporarily stop attending school to recuperate and recover. However, a few months later, I was further diagnosed with Fibromyalgia because the joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, accompanied by extreme fatigue, awful brain fog, and eye problems, among others, were persistent despite taking high doses of medications.

Months after receiving my diagnosis, I started an Instagram account in order to find a community that understands what I am going through and that I can get connected with to make me feel less alone. I only intended to share my mediocre art, thoughts, and feelings mainly for catharsis, but never did I know that such an account would be capable of saving so many lives, not just mine, but also the lives of chronic illness sufferers.

Recently, I started this project called #FlawedButBeatiful Initiative wherein I make digital solo art portraits and illustrations at a very affordable price to encourage chronic illness sufferers, psoriasis warriors, and those who battle with mental illness and autoimmune diseases to go out and tell their story to the world, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable this may seem. The main purpose of this initiative is to make people feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin despite their perceived flaws and imperfections. It's a pay as you can initiative because I wanted to make art available and accessible to everyone, even to those who are financially struggling. The financial support that I get from this project is only secondary, as nothing beats the altruistic feeling of being able to empower and uplift others.

The first few months of diagnosis were dark and gloomy, to say the least, but I decided to get back up and not let my illness hinder me. Even as I struggle every day with pain, doing basic chores, and at times, more so existing, I have always managed to convince myself to push through. As I stay isolated at home while I recover, I have decided to devote my time to making art, playing the bass guitar, writing articles, saving lives, and touching hearts.

I am Annelyse, and I have Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia. But I refuse to be defined by these illnesses because they are only a part of me. I may be slowed down, but I refuse to be hindered. I intend to thrive on my own terms, heal at my own pace, and cheer on everyone else's healing as well. I am a survivor, I am a warrior, I am worthy, I am more than enough, I am loved, I am capable of doing great things, I am flawed, but I am beautiful-- and you are, too.

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