Hello there, beautiful! It's been a while, huh? I have really neglected my blog the past couple months because of personal reasons -...

Pretty Personal: Living with Psoriasis - Part 1. My Story

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 Catherina F. 0 Comments

Hello there, beautiful! It's been a while, huh?
I have really neglected my blog the past couple months because of personal reasons - something I want to share with you today.
I want to talk about psoriasis and all the woes and joys that comes with it. It's way too long to fit into a single post (at least if I hope people to actually read it), so I will split it into a few parts.
Starting with part 1 - what are you waiting for? Jump in for my story!


Pretty cool photo, right? Did you know that there is a little secret hiding behind the makeup?
I have a little thing called psoriasis, in my case - scalp psoriasis, and also a couple small patches here and there on my body.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. There has been no successful research done on what exactly causes it, but as all autoimmune diseases it has to do with genetics and the immune system. I won't bore you with details on this, since there are quite a lot of things at play, you can click here to find out more about it (I am in no way affiliated with the authors of the page, it's just a good resource for information).
The basic gist is that people who are affected by psoriasis produce skin cells much faster than normal, which causes the lesions and flakes to develop. It's often triggered by something and it also can 'randomly' appear one day, even if you never had it, if something triggered a reaction in your skin (what happened to me).

The point I'd like to stress here it's that psoriasis is not contagious. I hear a lot of people say that they're often treated badly (or cautiously) because there's an assumption that you can 'catch' it. You cannot - 100% no chance of 'catching' psoriasis, if it's not already in your genes.

As I've already mentioned, I have scalp psoriasis, which means I also have dandruff (making things worse). But they are not just your regular 'snow', it's also larger pieces of skin, simply because this isn't regular dryness of the skin that's causing it. Not only that, the area all around my hair line is red and scaly (depends on the day, if it's a good day it's just mildly inflamed, and if it's a bad one...well it's just bad).
My case can probably be classified as mild-to-medium-severity since I only have it on my scalp, and one more patch elsewhere. However mild it might be, though, it can still be very....tough to live with.

I got it in my early teens, as a trigger reaction to a bad shampoo/dandruff treatment combination and I've had it for over 10 years now. I probably don't need to tell you that for a teenage having this condition made things that much tougher.
I personally have always thought my hair was one of my best assets, so when psoriasis developed, I started hating life even more. People would ask me if I had allergies, if it was contagious, or 'what the hell is wrong with your head' and I would usually say it was a chemical burn (which is how it started) and shrug it off.

However, inside I felt embarrassed and ashamed, as if somehow it made me a worse person. For many years I would walk with my head down, literally - when I was outside, I always kept my eyes pointed at the pavement, afraid to face people, afraid they would see my skin and say mean things.
Every morning getting ready for school was hell - I hated my reflection in the mirror, hated that every time I so much as ran my fingers through my hair a fine dandruff 'mist' covered my clothes, despised the red blotches around my hairline and how they stood out next to my pale complexion. I had my hair shorter, around shoulder length, so it would be easy to put it up somehow...rarely did I go out with my hair down.

After a couple years I got more used to what was happening to my skin, I started growing out my hair again, even coloring it a little. The fear remained, but I grew tired of having to keep myself 'under wraps' because of my condition.
It was around the same time that I developed my love for Gothic lifestyle, with lots of dark colors, lace and velvet - basically the worst style spectrum to have dandruff as it's always somewhat visible. It didn't matter - I wanted to show my true self, the self I was behind closed doors. I rocket my outfits, I always made sure not to scratch my head when I was out and even though I always had a little dandruff on my clothes I'd just brush it off and continue looking ever so dark and chic. It was then when I began embracing psoriasis as part of who I was. People would compliment my sense of style without even noticing my condition.
The main thing I took from that period of my life is that if you carry yourself with confidence, people will be much more accepting of whatever 'imperfections' you have. Your confidence will also put a lid on those, who made fun of you and made your life difficult since there is nothing more 'boring' than someone who doesn't care about the taunts. At least it's how it went for me. I knew people talked about me behind my back, but they no longer dared saying things to my face because I no longer was vulnerable to their tactics.

However, I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of the condition and say that everything will be fine with a little confidence - I dislike people who say that.
Psoriasis is tough to live with - it can be anywhere from uncomfortable to downright painful. Moreover, it affects how people see you. Which, in turn, can cause depression and general self-doubt and lack of confidence.
I mean, in this day and age people already can never be perfect enough - something or someone will always make you feel bad about yourself. Add an actual ailment of any kind and you have yet another hurdle to jump over.
As I mentioned, just having it on my scalp made me feel like a damaged human being. That's minuscule when compared to many of you who have it on your body, making the simplest everyday tasks more complicated because of it.
And, oh the irony, stress is believed to be the biggest trigger for flare-ups - but the flare-ups cause stress! It's a kind of never-ending circle that is really difficult to break, even temporarily.

Am I an expert when it comes to dealing with the condition? Not even in my dreams. I do, however, have learned to live with it, and deal with the depression, hate, exclusion that comes with it. Thus, I felt it was about time I started talking about it, knowing how many people have to deal with this, because I want to extend a helping hand. Because we NEED to talk about it.
Feeling like you're broken, damaged somehow because you have a skin condition is not okay. What makes you human, a good person, should not be determined by your genetic quirks.

You might wonder, why then my blog isn't called somethingbeautywithpsoriasis, or why is this the first time I ever extensively discussed my condition?
The answer is simple - psoriasis is NOT my identifier. It's just like blue eyes or hairy legs - a genetic quirk that I refuse to let my life be defined by.

The past year or so I have been dealing with depression that has been caused, in large part, by the resulting negative feelings from having this condition. People around me have little knowledge about what I've been going through in my head, just trying to stay alive. There is a lot behind this, so I think I'll leave the whole story for another post, because I want to talk about what must have been the darkest time in my life.
These days, however, I am better.
Are there days when I hate my skin and wish I could magically heal? Definitely.
Are there days when I hate looking at the mirror and want to (and do) hide away in my bed? For sure!
I just no longer let it infect my life. If my skin behaves badly, I just slather some cream and continue with my life.
Remember I mentioned I used to keep my hair shorter? Well, no longer. My hair is at, what my sister likes to call, a 'Disney Princess' state - long, luscious and beautiful. Looking at the mirror makes me smile, especially when I'm having a good hair day - and there have been more and more of those!
I have had a few photo shoots done, by a photographer friend who actually asked to shoot me - guess what, she didn't even notice my condition until I told her about it.

I go out with friends, I go to work, I live my life - I love and I am loved.

Because it's just one small part of me, in a weird way it helps me not stray from the 'me' that I've grown up to be. Would my life be different if I didn't have psoriasis? Probably, yet there is no telling how it would be different. Perhaps it would be worse? Thus I try not to dwell on the 'could have-would have'.

I am still actively trying to find ways to have it under control and ease the discomfort it causes, and I probably will never stop looking for ways to make things better. However, I don't have a 'get cured or hate everything' mindset, because an auto-immune disease is something that doesn't 'go away'. 

I really hope this doesn't sound preachy, or judgmental. This post, and subsequent ones I want to publish, have only one goal - I want YOU to find strength to smile, lift your head up and carry yourself with pride. 
Psoriasis is a part of me, a part that I dislike, and sometimes even hate, but a part of me none the less.

It is difficult, still, for me to be brave enough to talk about it so openly, but it HAS to be done. To my mind, keeping this condition hushed up is what causes all the negative reactions and, in turn, makes people affected by it feel worse about themselves.

In addition to another post or two on my life with psoriasis (including depression), I will try to release a couple posts on ways I deal with psoriasis, perhaps remedies I found effective and beauty tips (mainly for women, but hey - it's useful for anyone using makeup) on how to cover up/work around psoriasis without causing extra damage (and which products I found to work well with it). Because I have come to embrace my condition and I want to help you do the same.

I hope you enjoyed reading my story, perhaps found something you can relate to.
I will gladly answer any questions you might have, or listen to your story - share it with me, and everyone, because it should be heard!

Hope you're surviving all this heat ^_~ Don't forget to share the love!
'Till next time.

XoXo,
                   Specs

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