Psoriasis manifested itself when I was in sixth grade. Our school had a strict dress code and girls were not allowed to wear pants. Unfortunately for me, plaques showed up in big patches on each knee and each elbow. Impossible to hide, to explain what it was or why it appeared so, my days were filled with students, teachers, coaches, and office staff asking me, “What do you have all over you?”. Everyone felt free to make comments to me or about me to each other in my presence.
I had a teacher tell another student not to sit in my desk so, “She didn’t catch it.” I had parents writing notes to the school staff voicing their concerns over whether I was contagious or not. My peers were busy passing my germs around the room. My grades plummeted, my self-esteem was zero.
Looking back, I was super anxious and super depressed. My parents took me to five different dermatologists. They all told us the same thing: ” psoriasis, and there is no cure”. I was prescribed salves, lotions, pills, and shots. At one point, I was given steroids and my plaques went crazy and covered most of my body. It took years to go into a “remission ” and years of battling unwanted sneers, comments, discrimination, and pity.
I am 62 years old now. If I could tell my little sixth grade self anything, I would tell her to continue to be strong, continue making art and music. Be grateful for your friends and hold up your head. Over the years, I learned how to hide it. I took pills, laid in the sun, covered myself in coal tar and Saran Wrap. Eventually, it stopped mattering so much to me and I learned to show it to people first and then explain what it was. Most people understood and the ones that did not; I learned to let them go.
So many treatment options are available now. There is finally hope. I believe there will be a cure in the future. Until then, stay strong!