As I suspected in one of my latest posts, a new flare is coming or I should say is happening. It feels like my spots are doubling overnight and the urge to scratch is intense. I have that helpless feeling of not knowing how bad it will get or how long it will stay.
When a new flare starts, I always think back to the first one.
In the spring of 1998 when I was 15, I thought I was having allergic reaction to spring and the spots were just hives. I’m allergic to most of the outside world – grass, certain trees, pollen, etc. But overnight I was covered in red, scaly spots that completely took over my body. I had spots covering my arms, legs, chest, stomach, back, and scalp. The dermatologist confirmed it was psoriasis.
I figured he’d write me a prescription for a pill or some cream and I’d be clear in a few days. In my head, I was already thinking about what I’d wear to cover it at school and then I’d be back to shorts and tees in a few days.
But when the doctor started saying things like “try this first” and “could work” or “might work,” suddenly I was faced with trying to understand this FOREVER disease. I couldn’t believe there was no magic pill or cream that just made it go away. But nevertheless I was given the first of many topical prescriptions to “see how I’d do.”
Topicals and light therapy were my first treatments.
The original topical prescription didn’t work, the second and third didn’t either. After months of trial and error with topicals, I was getting light treatment 3x a week. I didn’t have my license yet, so a huge shout out to my parents and grandparents for getting me there. The light box helped immensely and within a few months, I went from red, intensely itchy spots to pink, dry and healing spots.
Being a teenager with psoriasis was hard.
It impacted my confidence in ways I’m still learning to understand. It really affected the already hard relationship with my body. In my mind, if the rest of my body and features were perfect, then it would make up for the spots. I was mad at my body for doing this to me. I was embarrassed about my skin. Pictures don’t really exist of my early flares. My skin was either covered, or I just didn’t get in the picture. I was stared at a lot, so I stayed home when I would have rather been at the beach with friends. I had an incident with a grouchy lady who scolded me about coming out in public with my “chickenpox.” I was young so I didn’t stick up for myself. Instead I cried and went home.
Looking back over the past 23 years, so many of my major life events and accomplishments were made living with psoriasis. Proms and boyfriends. Graduating high school and college. Building my career. Getting married and and having two incredible daughters. It’s really important to me that my daughters see me being proud of who I am. Psoriasis has helped me grow into the person I am today. Though it still sometimes affects my confidence, I’ve accepted my diagnosis. I’m grateful it’s given me a different purpose in life to advocate and introduced me to a community of inspiring people.
I’ve grown up with psoriasis. It’s a part of who I am today.
I do have to wonder how accepting I’d be of my original psoriasis diagnosis if it came later in life. Tell me in the comments when you were diagnosed with psoriasis and how you felt after the diagnosis.