When I was younger and had a really large breakout, I’d get really sad and depressed. There was so much good about me and my life but it was very difficult to see past having these big blotchy patches on my skin.
I’m a huge advocate for therapy. Being able to separate myself from my skin condition and knowing that nobody’s perfect was really big for me. I needed to learn that my skin isn’t going to be perfect and it never will be, but I could still be a leader and have a voice and be powerful. I’ve gone to therapy since I was 14 years old, when it was really bad.
I’m on biologics now, so my psoriasis rarely flares. It’s not something I think about on a day-to-day basis anymore. But in February, I had one of the worst flare-ups since I was a teenager. This time, it wasn’t as stressful for me. I was just like, ‘Okay, my skin is doing that thing again. I’ll take medicine and it will go away. It’s fine.’ I’ve had psoriasis for 18 years now, so I’ve had time to come to terms with it and to understand that I am not defined by my skin. I know that there are so many things I can be proud of outside of the way I look.”
“I was so self-conscious of my psoriasis that I hid it from everyone.”
Jena L., 31, public relations professional in Miami
“I’ve had mental health struggles since middle school, which is when I noticed I was getting teased for my skin. I don’t think the teasing necessarily caused my mental health problems, but as a middle schooler, it definitely didn’t help.
As I got older, I struggled specifically with my appearance and eating disorders. I was so self-conscious of my psoriasis that I hid it from everyone, including my boyfriend in college who didn’t even notice that I had it until over two years of dating. I hid it well, and I continued to do it with anyone else I dated or got close to. I always assumed everyone knew and saw, and I felt like it was the elephant in the room.
This probably sounds silly, but I think I finally gave up a lot of my insecurity after Instagram got big and I saw others posting about body image positivity and other cosmetic issues that we can’t control. Even sillier, but when I saw Kim Kardashian open up about her psoriasis, it was comforting to know that someone who has everything at their disposal could also have the same issues.
Seeing others who seemed so beautiful and brave and accepting of themselves on social media really did help me be more secure in who I am—flaws and all. Mental health will always be something I struggle with, daily in fact, and accepting and loving myself took time. A lot of time. But I look at the marks on my skin as a reminder of who I am, and I just own it now.”
“I used to hate showering because I’d have to look at my skin.”
Damini Mistry, 26, U.K. blogger at Damini Blogs
“I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 6 years old. At the time, it was on my elbows, knees, and behind my ears. I then had my first severe flare-up when I was in my early teenage years. Psoriasis covered 90% of my body. This was a very confusing time for me. I was very quiet and reserved growing up, but at the time, I never understood that this was because of my insecurities and low self-esteem.