~~Warning that within this post there are some graphic images~~
~~ Thank you for my friend Georgina for proof reading this post.~~
I don’t believe you can say that everyone will ever feel completely comfortable in their own skin – no matter whether ‘comfortable’ is taken to mean exuding confidence, or being happy with your own appearance. Both definitions are ideals which many strive to achieve – I know I do – but as mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had the most positive relationship with my body.
On the whole, it hasn’t been terrible, but it certainly could have been better – and hopefully, one day soon, it will be. Being comfortable in my own skin is something I think will be incredibly hard for me to achieve, but in trying to be positive, I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility – instead merely commenting on how unlikely it is to happen.
I suffer from a skin condition called Psoriasis – it is a genetic disorder which affects people of all ages, and is often influenced by a combination of stress, hormones, choice of diet (etc) – though it can be influenced by nothing at all. It isn’t contagious, and contrary to popular belief, it isn’t because I haven’t washed my face – its causes are a little more complex than that. I mention this because I have suffered from Psoriasis since I was seven years old, and when it first manifested, it was luckily only on my hips and was easy to hide. By the time I was eight, however, it had begun to affect my face and other visible parts of my body – and so it has remained for over a decade.
At 19, Psoriasis now not only affects my face, but my neck, ears and breasts as well. My breasts are almost entirely covered with affected skin, with patches also appearing on my stomach and back, and most recently increasing numbers of patches have manifested on my thighs and legs. My thighs, breasts and stomach are easy to conceal, and with my neck I just have to leave my hair down and ensure it also covers my ears – and so nobody sees my condition or even realises I suffer from it.
Unfortunately, however, my face is not so easily hidden. I’ve never been lucky with its effects there, and I think because of this I will always be uncomfortable. Psoriasis causes your skin to grow too fast for your body to shed, resulting in a flaky crust on the skin which looks red raw, and because of this I remember walking into classrooms for a lot of my life and having teachers hand me face wipes telling me to wash my face. Maybe they didn’t recognise the condition, or maybe they thought rubbing would be helpful, but it never mattered how long I rubbed at my face – little flakes always seemed to remain. Sometimes I rubbed my face completely raw in the hope of looking ‘normal’ like the other kids, but this usually made my skin crack and bleed. Which then, naturally, meant going back into the classroom with scabs of dried blood on my face instead of a flaky crust of dead skin.
People have often asked me as I got older if I had thought of moisturising, which I eventually began responding to with a snarky reply along the lines of “oh my God, I never thought of that! I must tell my doctor.” Even despite their good intentions, they still upset me, not because they were trying to help but rather because truly helping would be to not comment on it at all. Not commenting helps me feel like everybody else – it makes me more than just my condition. I’m not saying that it is like this for everyone with Psoriasis, because after all this blog is simply my experience of Psoriasis, but I imagine that it would be appreciated a lot more than constantly commenting on it.
As I just said, when people don’t comment, I feel normal. Well, as normal as I can feel walking around with skin that is either red raw or a flaky crust. My friends don’t comment anymore, which is amazing. More often than not, if a piece of skin is hanging off my face, they come and pick it off or tap the spot on their own face and that is it, which is a lot more helpful than the comments I used to receive. I’m thankful for them, who help and support me, and I’m also grateful for my parents’ efforts to combat the condition with me – for Mum for fighting for creams and medical advice, and Dad who shares the condition himself and helps me to manage it.
I’m always going to have Psoriasis – it is as much a part of me as my right arm is. Over the years, I’ve come to accept it as a part of me, despite how uncomfortable it can make me feel. It no longer bothers me all the time, as I’m beginning to manage it and understand it more and more, and so I hope – one day – I will finally be comfortable in my own skin.