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When Psoriasis Became My 'Prison'

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The breeze on my skin.

That’s something so simple, so normal – what’s so special about the feel of the breeze against my skin? I sat in my garden and pondered that question, it does me good to remember when it was so special.

In 2010 I started ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy for my psoriasis. About 70 percent of my body was covered by that point with plaques of psoriasis. It was under my breasts and the crack of my bottom was shiny, sore and red… often weeping.

It’s hard to reconcile the woman who looks out of my eyes now to the haunted woman that used to be in here. Who trembled as the dermatologist examined me, and closed my eyes in emotional pain as I removed my clothes knowing the nurses would look upon my skin. But it was worth it as UVB therapy cleared my skin like a miracle cure in 10 weeks. For the first time in about 30 years I let my skin be seen by people, by my family, my children.

Yes, I was that embarrassed and ashamed of my skin that I couldn’t bear for anyone to see it. The lengths I would go to so that people wouldn’t see the flakes of skin falling from my clothes. It didn’t matter how hot the weather, I would wear a long sleeved T-shirt with rubber bands at the wrists to stop flakes escaping, the bottom of it tucked into trousers or leggings and then another long sleeved shirt over the top. Only white socks. Only cream carpet would do to hide the trails of skin. A bath every other day to soften the skin enough to rub it off, then slather myself in cream to try and prevent the hundreds of cracks that felt like paper cuts when I moved.

I had lived in fear of seeing that involuntary look of disgust on peoples faces, the ugly comments and looks, the embarrassment would twist my guts in knots.

So one April day in 2010, I sat in my garden, a gentle breeze flowed against my arms. I tried to remember the last time I had felt that. I was 47 and I simply couldn’t remember when I’d last felt a breeze caress me… it was a light bulb moment.

Never again would I let myself create a prison to live in.

I know I had built that prison, my perception of myself was warped and tempered by my sensitivity to what I believed people thought of my skin. I was too afraid to get help as I was frightened that when everything was tried and failed, I would then have that vague half hidden hope that one day I would be free snatched away and I would have to face the cold hard fact that that there was no help. I hated myself for how I looked, I blamed myself for my skin. I let it rule my world.

I have chronic illnesses: psoriasis, migraine, polycystic ovary syndrome, psoriatic arthropathy (an inflammatory arthritis), irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, chronic dyspepsia and fibromyalgia. I see my world differently. Physical pain I can deal with but the emotion pain I have caused myself was the hardest thing to overcome. I was damaged from abuse in my childhood and my marriage, I damaged myself further with self-hatred.

Now in my 50s I like who I am, I’m proud of the way I’ve survived so much, and strive every day to be a better and happier me.

Every so often the breeze will make me remember and smile.

Thinkstock Image By: patanasak

Originally published: July 26, 2017
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