Living With Psoriasis:
Why Me?! Being diagnosed with psoriasis ruined my life. Is that too dramatic?! Well, it’s true.
Having psoriasis stole my self-esteem, it took away my confidence. As a women, we have enough pressures that society has piled on us. So why on earth, did it have to be me diagnosed with this scaly, itchy, bloody, painful patches on my scalp, ears and now under my chest. Let’s see here: excruciating menstrual cramps every month that make me curse the day I was born, check! Weight and skin insecurities, double-check! I mean…as a woman, I have enough to deal with!
I thought I paid my dues with a hideous deformed scar on my lower back from Pilonidal disease that lead me to twelve surgeries and many emergency procedures. It’s been a few years and to this day I can’t bring myself to look at my scar. The emotional scar from it I have is a lot deeper than my wounds. I already have thoughts of: how will my future husband accept this? Do I show and tell him before our wedding day? If that’s not bad enough, I also have hypothyroidism, I won’t indulge in it’s symptoms of mood swings, depression, hair loss, constant fatigue and so on. I get it, God. I do, but through all my anxiety attacks, operations and symptoms of Hypothyroidism, I can accept it all expect for Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is my biggest battle. I have healed after every surgery, I have moved past every anxiety attack, I am able to cover my scars and face every symptom and look forward to a better tomorrow but I can’t conceal my patches and deteriorating self-esteem. I am constantly aware that anyone can notice and be ready to explain this disease from everyone’s opinions and assumptions. Do they think I have poor hygiene? Do they think I don’t moisturize? It’s a constant array of questions and doubts.
I was in High School when I started to notice itchy bumps on my scalp. It wasn’t dandruff and it was bloody and painful. As I got older, it kept getting worse. It spread all over my scalp, behind my ears and inside my ears. Occasionally, I get a break out on my fingers and on my back and most recently I discovered a patch under my right chest, that has now become the size of China! My mother has spent thousands of dollars on medicated shampoos, medications, ointments and we have yet to find something that truly works. There is one medicated cream named Clobex, that I use, but it’s a hit or miss. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t help control it. On top of it, it’s also super expensive and the insurance barely covers it. Doctors have constantly explained to me that it is controllable and not curable. I have even had fluid injection shots in my head to help but still, along with so many psoriasis patients we are waiting for a miracle. No one understands it. I hate going to hair salons because I get ignorant hairdressers making me feel like I don’t take care of myself and horrible as a woman. I had one hair dresser refuse to cut my hair because he thought it was contagious. I could see him wince in disgust as he parted my hair and tiny flakes and scabs were everywhere. I am always being told that I have dry skin and made aware that I have blood patches all over my scalp. I have received lectures about how I wasn’t washing out my shampoo well enough and how I should be doing this or doing that. I have this overwhelming feeling that this is all my fault and I needed to figure out a way to fix it. It’s not only painful but it’s embarrassing. Those bloody patches on my body are stamped with daggers in my heart. How do I allow myself to grasp the thought of never having normal skin? I love to wear black clothing but I am always so alert of the white flakes that sprinkles all over. I love to put my hair in a high bun, but you can see the marks and the red patches on my ears are visible. I still style my hair and wear dark colors that I want, hoping that if I can pretend that I am aware and confident about it, then it’ll go away.
They want to judge you, they want to ask you if it’s contagious, you feel unpretty and un-womanly, but we can’t keep defending ourselves and explaining this disease, for those who are unaware: basically, my immune system attacks itself, thus causing my skin to grow at a faster rate which leaves me with the patches and joint pains, it’s an overproduction of skin cells. The condition leaves 40 per cent of sufferers embarrassed, 22 per cent depressed and seven per cent suicidal. Patients also have a higher risk of fertility issues, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and cancer. It is also NOT contagious if you touch me. Awareness is contagious and although millions of people have it, no one is knowledgeable about it. It doesn’t just affect the person physically, but it emotionally takes a toll.
I am also learning to change my attitude. Every time I visit a new hair stylist, I have to feel a swell of nerves as they comb through my hair and massage my scalp. I used to apologize and explain ahead of time for having a skin condition. Then, recently, I stopped saying anything at all. I figured they were professionals and therefore just had to deal with it and should be knowledgeable about it. In fact, I just colored my hair a few days ago. It is something I have always wanted to do but never wanted to, to avoid my psoriasis. I usually try not to look at the hair stylist as they brush or cut my hair, because I am afraid of their expressions, of course, the dreaded topic came up, the stylist asked me if I knew I had patches that were bleeding on my scalp, and as I was about to answer her, I see a flake shaped of a heart on my thigh and I looked up and for once, didn’t feel the need to explain myself.
So if you suffer from Psoriasis, let’s have the mindset of survivors. We are surviving every day, we also have to accept that our body might never heal, but we will never be able to bring true healing into our lives by allowing this toxic energy. Truthfully, as I write this, and as my scalp itches me and as I leave a trace of white flakes everywhere I go, I am still unable to accept my condition. Along with my deformed scar on my back, a scar on the left side of my face, daily insecurities as a girl, I also have to face insecurities about my skin and it’s condition and that affects my relationships. Men have a hard time accepting your flaws and feeling as though you aren’t perfect. I’ve had to deal with people asking me how do I expect to find a man who will accept me, but I don’t allow it to alter my hopes of one day finding someone who will not only accept me in every way, but appreciate me and realize that my scars all tell a story, just like art and look at me as their master-piece. This has ddestroyed my self-confidence and makes me resent my body. Self-acceptance is something I need to work on and I realize that this is what is flooding my cells with self-hatred and adding stress, which causes flare ups. I feel like I have chicken pox on a daily basis and I feel isolated, that’s not okay with me! It is not easy and I am not going to pretend that it is. I struggle with this every day. But you know what? We all have our demons to battle, insecurities and we are all fighting against ourselves and others. I don’t want to let my skin define who I am and how I feel. I have a long journey ahead of me, this is a battle I will never win. Do I still feel ashamed? Yes. You know what else? It has shaped me and has made me a good judge of character. It has taught me to appreciate those who don’t judge me but accept me, flaws, patches and all. Psoriasis doesn’t have me, I have psoriasis. It doesn’t control me, I control it and I will no longer hide from it, but I will try my best to live with it!
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha