Julianna's Story

Julianna previously shared her treatment tips with us, now she has written a school essay based on her life living with psoriasis. She kindly shared it with us.

She didn’t really know what to do when she heard the news. All she knew was that the salty tears that were dripping uncontrollably down her face were giving her cheeks a dark blush. The pink scaly spots that had marked her skin and disappeared weeks later when she was younger, weren’t a rash, it was a condition. A condition that would last her lifetime. As soon as she was told by her dermatologist that she had Psoriasis; a flood of thoughts rushed through her mind. That girl was terrified. That girl was insecure. That girl was me.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis and that changed my life. I wasn’t too concerned about my Psoriasis being noticed by others at first. The fabrics that formed my uniform could hide the patches that shredded my heart every time I gave them a glance. That was until summer came along and the patches began to over take my skin and scalp. During 30 degree weather you would see me sweating in my cotton jumper and laced tights. I couldn’t be seen like this. I wouldn’t be seen like this. However, the patches didn’t seem to agree with me. Suddenly, I was stained in places that were impossible to hide and which everyone could see even from peripheral view. I’ve always loved the feeling of attention and popularity but this type didn’t seem right. I hated it. “Look it’s snowing!” some said. “It’s the half fish, half human girl!” others said. And the worst one of them all “Eww! She has monkey pox, stay away before we all get contaminated.” It wasn’t just what they said but also how the students acted. Doctor appointments made other patients distance themselves. Even a teacher wore a face mask every time they were near me. These people made me feel dirty, contaminated and out of place. With no choice left, I had to leave my school.

The summer holidays went by like a flash. Before I knew it, I was in Year 10 with no education and in a worsened state. I needed to fix myself, but how? No other school would accept me and I couldn’t go back because I was beginning to receive threats that had made that atmosphere even more dangerous for me. Treatments passed and I was still contaminated by Psoriasis and without a school. The only thing that prevented me from shutting myself out to the rest of the world was my theatre group (may God bless them because I really would be stuck with out them). After one long, itchy rehearsal, I arrived home exhausted. I kicked off my shoes and fell straight onto my bed, preventing myself from scratching my scalp so hard, that all my hair could fall out, and that was when it happened. I had never seen my mum run so fast in my life. My bedroom door had flung open and there came out the five words I had been waiting for for months. “You got into a school!” More tears. Happy tears. Celebrating tears. The next day there I stood in front of my new school. My new school. MY new school!

I was terrified at first though. I didn’t know how other people, the new people in my life, would react to my skin but when I saw my mum smiling behind me, I built the confidence to start walking. Every step I took increased the amount of butterflies that flew in my tummy by a thousand. The upside down arc that hadn’t appeared on my face for a while had returned bigger and brighter than ever. The food was different. The people were different. The buildings were different. The lessons were different. I was different. The students were smiling and everyone was inclusive. I had felt out of place for so long that at first I was petrified to be myself, I had been hiding for years, but in time, I learnt I could.

All it took to make me feel better about my skin was the support and kindness I received around my friends and family. I will be honest, it did take a while for them to get there. It isn’t the most easiest thing to accept but it should be. It needs to be normalised, just like so many other conditions. Around 2% of the population have different types of Psoriasis. That may seem like very few and you may feel that it is pointless to change how you act towards it, however that’s 125 million people who may go into a social environment feeling out of place, dirty and contaminated. The fact is, it isn’t what we feel about it but those thoughts don’t come to us unless it is what we have been told by the unreliable sources that creep into our lives. Imagine all the kids who have been diagnosed, are discriminated against by their own friends, at such a young age, just because it isn’t normalised. We don’t just suffer physically, we suffer mentally. It takes ages to wipe away the pink ink stamped on our skin but it doesn’t even take two seconds to give us a smile.

Although I haven’t made peace with this life time condition, I’ve had to accept it. I can’t refuse that I have it when it is obvious that I do. But I don’t have to feel forced to like it either. After putting on cream nightly, and going to the hospital for phototherapy daily for 5 months, my skin finally felt free. Yes, it has come back and forth. Yes, I have it all over my scalp. However, I feel so much better. No more are the days that I cry myself to sleep feeling so insecure about myself. No more are the days where I cover all my patches up because I can’t be seen with them. All because instead of getting stares, I got smiles; instead of having people distance, they got closer to me. It took time but it would have taken longer if I was on my own. I feel as if the people who I have been surrounded by have worked together to build a key and free me out of prison cell which I never knew I was in, until I got out. So next time you make a snap judgment about someone’s skin condition, assure yourself that you know the stories that each patch tells.

These aren’t just patches, they are our bravery badges.

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