I have much admiration for those who are able to face the world, psoriasis and all. It takes a kind of courage I often lack. I’ve had lots of unpleasant encounters due my psoriasis, not to mention the sympathy and well-meaning advice from friends and strangers, and it has put me off showing my skin in public. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hiding away. I want to take my children swimming, I want to lay on a beach in a bikini, I want to wear dresses with no sleeves.
If you feel the same, here are my tips to help you face the world:
Spend some time creating a list of the things you would like to do if you didn’t have psoriasis. Put it into a hierarchy from the easiest (eg supermarket with bare legs) to the hardest (beach BBQ in a bikini with friends). Start with the easiest and plan ahead. You might decide to go to the supermarket, legs on display, at a quiet time of day and with a friend if that gives you confidence. Aim to buy just two items instead of a trolley full. Move up your list once you feel comfortable with the first, so you might need to go to the supermarket five times before you progress to the school run.
Challenge your thinking. What are you worried about? What are your assumptions about other people’s reactions? Remember, most people are too busy worrying about their own appearance to give you much attention. Some of those people staring probably have psoriasis or scars or vitiligo hidden away themselves.
Ask yourself what’s the worse that can happen. It’s something we avoid thinking about but trust me it’s helpful. If you know what the worse case scenario is, you know if you can deal with it. Is it a group of young men laughing and pointing at you? Well that happened to me and I have lived to tell the tale. Yes, it was upsetting but I survived.
Be prepared for comments and questions. Have a response ready that includes an explanation (It’s psoriasis), a reassurance (It doesn’t bother me) and a distraction (This place is great. Have you been here before?). Practice in front of the mirror or with a friend. Practice some more. You need it to roll off your tongue like second nature in stressful situations. Practice again.
Stop feeling ashamed. Remind yourself it’s not your fault your skin looks like this. It’s not a reflection of your personality or lifestyle. Psoriasis is indiscriminate.
Acknowledge your success. It takes a great deal of courage to show your skin to the world when you have psoriasis. Yes, it was just a trip to the supermarket but it was so much more besides. Give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it.
If you want to read more about facing the world, follow this link.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.