Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Under my skin.

I've never written about this before. For most of my friends and the people closest to me, this is probably the first time you've ever heard me broach the subject. For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from a bad skin condition. Actually, more accurately, two varied skin conditions. Ecezma and psoriasis. While most people nowadays are quite familiar with the former, as it is talked about quite a bit now. 

In my younger years, I suffered with ecezma really badly, on my arms and legs, particularly around my joints; (elbows and knees.) It varied. I had flare ups where it became increasingly worse. It came to a really ugly head when I was about fourteen/fifteen, and after many, MANY angry, frustrated trips to my local GPs and hundreds of prescriptions, I got a hospital referral to dermatology. Eventually. Thank god. 

Finally, once I got my initial appointment, things started to progress quicker. I was always ridiculously self conscious about my skin. I hated wearing things that were sleeveless or anything that would show my legs off in case people commented on my skin. And to make it all worse, I was fifteen. I was growing up and beginning to resent the lot I'd been born with because my condition was visible. Vain as it is, but I hate having a skin condition, as opposed to something people can't spot with their naked eye. It's invasive. It's not private. Not even if you try to hide it. 

Anyway, I was prescribed different treatments and hurrah, they found something that worked. Ish. I went through light therapy sessions (for anyone who doesn't know what this is, it's basically UV lamps adapted to treat dermatology patients, kinda different to the typical sunbeds people are used to hearing about or visiting.) The sessions massively improved my skin and actually for a while, the skin condition I had disappeared. 

Until BAM. It was different. My skin was totally different to what I'd experienced before. Cue another trip back to a specialist or two. It wasn't ecezma,- people tend to grow out of that, this was psoriasis. It's kind of the same but a bit different. And the thing almost no one knows about it is this:

The main cause of psoriasis is stress and anxiety. 

Anyone who knows me realises how stressy I can be, my anxious streak and my obsessive compulsiveness when it comes to certain aspects of my life. I'm a worrier. Not only that, I'm basically a worrier who has inadvertently caused a pre-existing skin consition to develop and worsten overtime. It's kinda rubbish when you look at it like that. But it's not the end of the world.

Next month, I turn 21. I am currently discharged from the dermatology department at my local hospital, although I do still have regular repeat prescriptions.  I start uni again for my third year in two weeks, and my skin has flared up again. Stress. Damn you. It's a vicious cycle. It feels so strange to be writing about this. My skin condition isn't glaringly obvious as it once was, but at times, it can be. Sometimes, my unconscious stress causes my skin to break out, and I haven't even realised I'd been stressing at all. I don't ever draw attention to my skin if I can help it. I don't ever recall mentioning it in front of any of my friends or my boyfriend in a way that would cause them to see me in a different way. My skin has always made me feel self-conscious and wary, and yet, lucky for me, I've never really experienced any negative comments. Or not that many anyway.

I probably won't ever grow out of psoriasis. It will probably always bother me every time I have a deadline looming, or when I'm especially cold, or when I'm ill and rundown, but generally, I can keep it under control now. I've pretty much come to terms with that now. To most people, you probably read this and shrug off my 'minor' skin condition. I can understand that to a point, but for me, I've struggled with this most of my life, and to me, it has been a big deal. I don't let it bother me as much now. Most of the time I have bigger problems. Occasionally, I get a bit weepy about it, maybe I'll cancel a plan if my skin flares up really badly, and I'm feeling like I don't want to see anyone, but that's quite rare. And now, I guess, I can breathe properly about this getting published online. 

This is a bit of a step for me. How minute it may feel in other's perspectives, I don't care. I've felt like hiding myself from this for so long, and now, somehow, I have the confidence and the drive to post this. I empathise deeply with anyone suffering with skin conditions like mine. They're unpredictable, rubbish and garish at times. But they don't make you any less you. I think that's my point. Big smiles everyone, it's not worth being teary over.

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