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To Those Who Are Quick to Judge People With Psoriasis

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I’m not making this post for likes, for sympathy, or for any reason to benefit myself personally.

I ache, burn, itch and am in pain. I cry, complain and have asked myself “Why me?” more times than I can count. While I can argue I have justification for all of these actions, in hindsight, I realize none of this is fair to myself or anyone around me.

I want compassion, understanding, acceptance and awareness, not only for myself, but for anyone who is living with a skin condition that brings a negative stigma.

I’m not dirty. I’m not gross. I’m not infected nor am I contagious. I do have an autoimmune disorder known as psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder which affects the skin with dry, red, scaley patches. Psoriasis is not contagious. There is no cure and it is chronic. Even though I could go months or years with clear skin, I’ll carry this gene for the rest of my life.

A little background on my condition:

I had my first flare-up when I was 19 years old. It came with no warning. I was in my second year at university when I woke up one morning covered in burning/itchy/bright red spots that covered my face, down every body part to my feet. Having no idea what was going on, I called my parents who couldn’t offer any solid solution aside from making a doctor’s appointment.

After consulting with three different general practitioners who “diagnosed” me with scabies, chickenpox, and various fungal infections, this led to prescribing me too many antibiotics to count, all proving no solution. I was depressed, stressed and my nerves were shot.

My self-esteem and self-worth were at an all-time low. Eventually this affected my work ethic towards school and studying. I quit going to class, and my grades sunk to the point that I dropped out for two semesters. Going out in public had become a living nightmare.

After about a year and not having any success towards a solution, my friend suggested I seek out a dermatologist. I made the initial consultation appointment and as soon as I sat down in the office, the doctor’s first words were “You have psoriasis.” Just the confidence in his tone was enough to bring a moment of relief. I was in and out within 15 minutes with information and a promising prescription for prednisone, which is a powerful steroid.

Ask questions and educate yourself on any medications you’re given! 

I took prednisone for about two weeks with overwhelming results. I was 100 percent clear! I had never felt better. I felt like I had my life back. This lasted a little under a week. My body went into withdrawal and rebounded from the prednisone and my once-itchy red spots came back 10 times worse as half-dollar-sized plaque spots covering my scalp, hands, stomach, groin, ears, arms, back, legs and feet. I couldn’t eat, sleep or shower without hurting and without my skin cracking and starting to bleed to the point I would cry myself to exhaustion to fall asleep.

I was afraid to go back to the dermatologist. I took the initiative to researching, educating and attempting self-treatment. The latter was a failure. If there was a home remedy or something over-the-counter, I’ve tried it with no success or worsening my psoriasis.

After wearing myself out, I gave in and sought out a different dermatologist who prescribed me a medicine called methotrexate and a few topical creams. I was only taking this a little over a year, safely, when my dermatologist suggested I try going on a biologic. Long story short, I was on three different biologics which failed, showing no success after six months of treatment on each.

It’s been six years of bouncing around on different medications, looking for anything to help. Of those six years, I’ve spent about three years with 90 to 100 percent clear skin. The last medication I was on was Otezla, which my body grew resistant to after about five months. Because I was having a major flare up, I was prescribed Cyclosporine and I have just started my first doses of another biologic (which I swore off) called Stelara. A few days in and I’m seeing huge improvement already.

I must remain hopeful. That’s all I have.

If you’re still with me, I want to thank you for taking the time to read a small part of my story.

I am a son, brother, fiancé, uncle and friend. I am a person. I refuse to let my psoriasis define me. I want to shatter the negative stigma of skin conditions. There’s nothing wrong with me. My skin just sheds a little faster than normal.

I want to go outside without feeling the stares of people who pass me by. I want to eliminate any timidness of people who are quick to judge and not so quick to shake my hand or look disgusted when I hand them my debit card to pay for an item. I want to feel like a normal person. I want to wear shorts in the summer heat without judgement.

Even though I’ve callused my bubble of confidence, there are days that are very difficult. There are days I still ask “Why me?” But I can’t let my psoriasis win. I am strong. I have a great support system that many may not have.

So next time you see someone who looks different than you, stop yourself and put yourself in their shoes. Silently applaud them for having the strength to get out and live their life. Smile. It makes a huge difference. Living with a skin condition that affects your appearance can be a struggle.

Get educated. Show respect. Show compassion. Express acceptance. Promote awareness.

We’re all people trying to live.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Originally published: June 21, 2016
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