World Psoriasis Day: No Longer Ashamed, Only Liberated

Today is world psoriasis day, and people from all over the world is gathering in unison to promote awareness for a skin disease that is shunned in the media and across the globe.

What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid build-up of skin cells. This build-up of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface. Inflammation and redness around the scales are fairly common. Typical psoriatic scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed. Scales typically develop on joints, such elbows and knees.

Putting the facts aside, today I want to share a story of a young girl who fell, who rose and who is now liberated.

The Discovery
I was ten when I felt an itch all over my body. At that point of time, I thought it was just an itch so I put some aloe vera and the itch stopped. But, it began. I woke up to my body being so itchy like it was on fire, it was the type of itch that makes you want to jump into a flame to make it stop. Patches of scaly skin engulfed me into a limbo of pain and exhaustion, so I went to see a dermatologist.
That was when I found out that I had it. I have psoriasis. Usually, people with psoriasis have it when they’re in their 20s-50s but here I am, within four white walls and a dermatologist to echo the name again and again. And I started thinking: either I am a ten-year-old trapped in an adults body or I am just an unfortunate rarity. Tragically, I am the latter.

The Experience
It was numbingly painful at first; when you realise that you have to live with a condition that’s presently uncurable and wear a Halloween costume 24/7 for 365 years straight. I see my nails pitted and deformed, my skin looking like a red polka dot dalmatian and there I am, helplessly seeing me transform. Schoolmates shunned me, friends didn’t dare to touch me and family members whispered about me. Was I really a plague, so disgusting to not be loved? I was in a state of depression and helplessness, I hate the skin I was in, hate to not be normal. I was mentally and emotionally disconnected internally which triggered even more psoriasis, ironic huh?

The Exposure
As I mellowed in my own self-pity, I picked up a magazine with bold letters: KIM KARDASHIAN HAS PSORIASIS
I couldn’t say I was not shocked; a celebrity with psoriasis? How do they cope? All the stories relating to psoriasis was how to cover it up not expose it. I started reading, looking for people like me, only to stumble onto the National Psoriasis Foundation. Maybe, just maybe I was not alone.

The Acceptance
It was not a flick of a switch to suddenly become body positive. It was the multiple relapses of negativity and the seeking of refuge that slowly made me let go. At first, when I started talking on TalkPsoriasis, I was greeted with so much positivity and acceptance to the community. I started wearing clothes that were not jeans or long sleeves like a t-shirt and Bermudas which progressively turned into tank tops and shorts. But I wasn’t ready to let go of the mean things that people called me, shamed me for. It was hard to ignore their criticisms of how different and flawed your skin is compared to theirs. It took time for me to learn to not think about my skin so much, whether I left any flakes on the table I am writing my work on, whether my nails are obviously abnormal to others. I still think about those things, but it gets better. Trust me. How else would I have the courage to tell the entire world who I am?

The Understanding
It then hit me, people would see you the way you want them to see you. In the past, I hated my skin so much and was hesitant to touch anyone which then reflect how people saw me. It was ignorance that makes people afraid, and that ignorance can turn into understanding if you show it. And that is what I did. You don’t have to be a celebrity to get over your insecurities, you have to first give yourself time to see that you are you and to not be ashamed of what you are.

Ultimately, everyone seeks the validation that they are pretty, they are smart, that they are enough. The key to validation lies in you, not them and learning that is still a long journey ahead. I am not a computer that can delete their imperfections, nor am I a robot that can push away negativity. What psoriasis taught me is that nothing is more important than your own happiness and contentment, and I hope that someday it will teach you too.

Image via Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

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Ashley Wong
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Ashley is a writer and a voracious reader of all genres. She advocates for Intersectional feminism and self-love. Occasional poet, determined food fanatic and full-time weirdo. Get weird with me!

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