Where do you go when you feel scared, confused, and lonely after a life-altering diagnosis? For many people, the answer is…online. In WH’s 2021 Owning It series, you’ll meet nine self-starters who used social media and digital tools to seek solutions and community they couldn’t find elsewhere. Barriers, broken.
It started with little spots on my stomach when I was 14. I was just about to go to high school, and I was mortified. The only pictures that I ever saw of someone with psoriasis were at the dermatologist’s office, so I tried to cover up my psoriasis as much as I could—I wore really long tops and socks and body makeup.
I didn’t open up to friends and family about my psoriasis because I didn’t want to worry them with my problems, and I also thought that they wouldn’t get it because they weren’t going through it. I think a big part of psoriasis that’s misunderstood is that it goes so much deeper than skin. Before I created my Instagram account, @psoriasis_thoughts, in 2016, I found that a lot of people were talking about treatment online, but I didn’t see anyone talking about the emotional impact of the condition.
I started @psoriasis_thoughts for myself, without telling anybody in my personal life. I didn’t show my face; I just posted words and quotes, some of the thoughts from my diary. In one of my first posts, I wondered about how anyone would love me looking like this. A few people commented on my stuff, saying things like, I get it. Don’t worry, people will love you. These were people I had never met, who had never seen my face. I also saw other people who were living with psoriasis posting skin pics, and I remember I then had this urge to take a picture of myself.
I put up a photo of my face and my hand; it was a very vulnerable thing for me. If you live for 22 years hiding a part of yourself, being embarrassed about a part of yourself, and then all of a sudden just say, Forget it, it’s exhilarating, and I’m so grateful I did it.
I began sharing more openly and putting my face out there. I started to build my confidence and feel more empowered in my skin.
Now, four years later, my goal is to be a leading source of support to people living with and newly diagnosed with psoriasis, to remind them that they are not alone.
This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Women’s Health. Become a WH Stronger member for a print subscription and more great perks now.
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