I’ve had psoriasis for just over 12 years. The journey since my diagnosis has had its ups and downs. At some points in my life, I’ve felt stronger, and at other points, weaker — but through it all, I’ve definitely grown braver.
I can’t attribute my bravery to myself alone. My supportive family and friends have been through this rollercoaster ride with me. Without them, I wouldn’t be as confident and brave as I’ve become.
From day to day, my feelings about my psoriasis change. If I’m super itchy or sore one day, of course, I’ll be in a low mood. That day, I may be more tired, less focused, and in an overall haze. On the flip side, when my skin is fairly tame, I feel more vibrant, alert, and ready to take on whatever the day throws at me. Like anyone, my moods also fluctuate through the day as it progresses, negatively or positively.
I’m sure that a lot of people wonder how I feel throughout the day, confidence wise. It’s something that I think about a lot. During conversation or interaction with the barista making my coffee or someone new that I’ve just met, I’m always having a mini conversation with myself in the back of my mind. I’m guessing some people might think I’m anxiously wondering things like: “Do they think my skin is gross or weird? Are they trying to figure out what is wrong with me?”
But that’s not true! Instead, I’m actually thinking things like:
- “I wonder if they are wondering how I am showing my bare ‘flawed’ skin?”
- “Do they think I am brave for showing my skin?”
- “Do they think my skin looks cool or interesting?”
Those kinds of questions are constantly circling my mind. That’s maybe a little unexpected, right?
It’s not as though I don’t wonder what people are thinking about me. It’s just that I’m thinking about their possible thoughts in a positive way. I’m wondering if people are drawn to my personality — because of my psoriasis bravery — and if they like what they see on an aesthetic level. I almost feel as though my psoriasis has made me a little too confident at times! However, I don’t apologize for thinking like this. I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it forever: My psoriasis has made me into the person I am today!
Learning to be brave
If you met me today, you would meet someone who loves to talk about her psoriasis. I love the opportunity to educate people on psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and chronic illnesses. It’s something that is only now becoming a larger topic of discussion, and I’m trying to take every opportunity I can to be part of that conversation!
However, if you had met me anytime between 2007 and 2011, it would have been a different story. My mother raised me not to worry about what others think about me, so I’ve always been fairly confident — but I’ve still had my fair share of rough moments. When you’re growing up, you may see your peers going through all the same awkward stages alongside you. But it’s different and hard when you’re struggling with psoriasis skin, and when you look around, everyone else’s skin is clear, smooth, and not inflamed. I went through those years hiding my skin, and being so scared of what other people might think of me.
It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I decided I was tired of hiding. I was tired of letting people have control over me with their thoughts, their whispers, and their assumptions. It was time for me to take back my appearance, and feel confident about it!
I gathered my thoughts, and I wrote a Facebook post explaining my condition, and why I wouldn’t hide my psoriasis anymore. I posted it along with pictures of my skin.
Once I had let the world know about my secret, I felt free. It allowed me to ease into a mindset and experience that’s more typical of people my age. I could wear what I wanted, I could wear my hair up if I pleased, and I could flaunt my body any which way that I wanted! I couldn’t believe how brave I had become almost overnight. It was truly a feeling I will never forget.
But sharing my secret with the world didn’t mean that the thoughts, the whispers, and the assumptions were magically swept away. I definitely still dealt with rude comments and people poking their nose in my business. I still felt self-conscious at times. However, the way that I reacted to those comments and feelings changed. I needed to stay strong and I needed to keep telling myself that there is nothing wrong with me.
Every day there are little battles that I fight with my psoriasis, such as:
- I have to remember to moisturize at the exact right moisture level after getting out of the shower. Any fellow psoriasis friend will understand this.
- I experiment to learn what makeup works and doesn’t work with my psoriasis on my face.
- I need to remember to take the medication that keeps me going in the morning.
And there are sometimes bigger battles to fight. I have psoriatic arthritis associated with my psoriasis, so if I don’t stretch properly when I wake up, I’m so sore for the rest of the day. I also have to sense out how my skin feels in certain clothes on any given day. For example, the other day I was wearing a wool sweatshirt on a day that I was very scaly. The scales kept catching on the loose parts of the sweater and it was SO uncomfortable! I wish I’d of thought of it that morning before heading to work, but you know how it is when you’re running late!
Being brave in your own skin is not a cooker-cutter type of deal. Everyone is going to go through life feeling differently about their bodies, and that’s OK! As long as you deal with your own mental and physical attributes in the way that works best for you, then you’re already doing yourself a huge favor. Always remember to love yourself, take care of yourself, and be patient with your body and mind. Bravery isn’t born overnight, it’s grown over a lifetime.
This article is a favorite of the following psoriasis advocates: Nitika Chopra,Alisha Bridges, andJoni Kazantzis
@pspotted. She has been living with psoriasis since her teenage years and psoriatic arthritis since early adulthood. Her primary goal with sharing her disease with the world is to help others who are not as confident in their own skin, scaly or not, to feel as though they are not alone. She hopes to inspire others to feel more accepted in their day-to-day lives with their disease.