My Psoriasis Story
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I still remember to this day the first time my Mum & Dad discovered my psoriasis. I was five years old and thanks to my amazing long term memory, I remember telling my Mum that I had chicken pox like it was yesterday.
As psoriasis had been in my family for about 3-4 generations on both maternal and paternal sides, my Mum and Dad knew I didn’t have chicken pox and the doctors confirmed their suspicions – it was psoriasis.
I remember going swimming to the local leisure centre with my P.E teacher and school friends when I was about seven years old and I felt so uncomfortable and ‘minging’ in front of the other kids. I even felt looked down on by my teacher, as if I had a contagious disease that made me less important than the other kids in my class. I suppose there’s a chance that it was just my imagination that everybody thought I was a walking disease.
But, probably not.
I was a cheeky kid, full of beans, overly confident and I stuck up for myself no matter who it was or what was said. You would never have guessed that I was sad about my skin because of my little crazy personality and the fact I pretended I wasn’t upset about my skin.
Although my answer to everything was lashing out at those who said mean things to me. I never let them see me cry. If somebody said anything bad about my skin, my instant reaction would have been to fight them and win. I got in a lot of fights, but I thought that sticking up for myself and hurting people who hurt me would stop the nasty comments and rude remarks. It did! Other kids learned that if they called me bad names I would hurt them. Nasty comments did eventually stop when they learned I couldn’t and wouldn’t be bullied. It’s not nice to hear but I’m glad I was able to stick up for myself. If I never did, I probably would have got bullied and picked on all throughout school years. I’m lucky that it didn’t happen as many with psoriasis have got bullied because of it.
Funnily enough though, when I did stick up for myself, it was always me getting into to trouble for lashing out instead of them getting punished for saying mean, hurtful things. What the teachers obviously didn’t know was; bruises heal and cruel words stay with you forever!
I was diagnosed with anxiety when I got into my teens and my self confidence and self esteem plummeted. Anyway, back to when I was a teen, all my friends were interested in make-up, fashion and flirting with boys as teenage girls do, but I always felt like the odd one out. The black (or scabby) sheep of the crew. I was pretty don’t get me wrong, but my skin was not.
I had to be careful about using certain make-up on my skin, I had to use a stinky, coal tar shampoo that made me smell shit whilst they were all using the lush Herbal Essences.
I couldn’t wear little summer dresses in summertime like my friends did or sunbathe in the park as I wore a trousers and a jacket/coat in summer to hide my skin. The heat from the sun made me sweat, which in turn made my psoriasis worse. I also couldn’t wear false tan like my friends did in case my skin reacted badly to it.
Boys was another problem. I hated attention from boys. I was so shy and I thought nobody would ever like me and because I was scared to show my skin to people I would be single forever.
After I left high school I decided I wanted to be a Beauty Therapist. I enrolled on a Beauty Therapy course but three weeks into it my hopes were dashed. We had to partner up with other students and we had to do beauty treatments on each other in order to learn – such as tweezing, nails, waxing, spray tans etc… The other students hated getting paired with me, not because of my skin but because the teacher wouldn’t allow me to have most treatments. So I was learning how to do beauty treatment on them but they couldn’t learn on me. So again, I was the odd one out.
Last day of beauty school was the most embarrassing day of my life! We had to wear these tiny little white uniforms and trousers weren’t available. Basically, I left college due to the strict uniform policy and the total ignorance and lack of empathy I received from my teacher. Because the dress showed my legs I had to wear skin tights to hide my psoriasis and I also wore a little white cardigan to hide my elbows. I remember the teacher telling me that tights were not allowed and that I should take my cardigan off. When I told her I couldn’t, she literally embarrassed me in front of the whole class, shouting at me repeatedly to take my cardigan off. She said cardigans were not allowed in class and I had to remove it. I told her I was not going to take my cardigan off because my psoriasis made me self concious. Did she care? No. I was sent to see the ‘headmaster’ as apparently I was being rude and not doing as I was told as well as not following uniform policy. I’ve never been so discriminated against in my life. Unfortunately after that day, I decided Beauty wasn’t for me.
Next course was a Chef course. I wanted to be a chef. Stuck at that for a few weeks until one day again the teacher embarrassed me whilst learning to cook apple pie and said Katie here’s some gloves for you. So I felt like the odd one out again. She was probably just looking out for me as contact with certain foods can cause a reaction for psoriasis skin, but at the time I felt like she was singling me out because my hands were disgusting and everybody would get sick if they ate food from my bare hands. I don’t think she was being mean to me but at the time I thought she was and it really hurt my feelings. I admit I did have a chip on my shoulder. So yeah, college drop-out once again.
There has been a few times when I’ve been asked to be a model. Not long ago, I was approached by a casting agent to send in some photo’s for a clothes brand and hundreds of signed models applied for the job, sending in professional photographs from their portfolios. Me, I sent in some selfies took on my mobile phone and I was gobsmacked when they asked me to be the face of the brand. I never thought they would even look twice at me. Anyway, I declined the offer as my psoriasis was really bad at the time and I was petrified that I would turn up to the photoshoot and they would see my skin and turn me away. I could go on all day about the opportunities I’ve missed because of my skin.
I then decided to just get a job where no qualifications were needed and a job with no skin contact at all.
A few little non-serious, no touching, relationships later, aged 18 I then met my boyfriend Michael, I’d knew him since I was a kid as he lived on the same street as me when we was growing up and he was the first lad I’d ever felt a little bit comfortable with. So comfortable in fact that on our first date I showed him my psoriasis, told him it wasn’t contagious and he was great. He really boosted my confidence a lot. I admit I did show him my skin as a pre warning, because I really liked him and would have rather he dumped me right there on the spot than months later when things got serious and more intimate. Luckily he wasn’t bothered by it and told me I was very pretty and beautiful and to this day, 11 years later, we are still together. I love him so much.
I will be honest, I still feel looked down on and self concious about my skin but nothing compared to my younger years. I actually posted a picture a while back here on my blog showing my psoriasis to the world which was a HUGE thing for me to do and I never thought I’d do anything like it, ever. I tell everybody I meet that I have psoriasis and hope to raise awareness. So, I’ve definately gained more confidence, met some friends who also have psoriasis and finally learned that beauty really is skin deep.