I Found Confidence When I Stopped Hiding My Psoriasis
Laura Parish, 39, of Reading, England, has had psoriasis for as long as she can remember. Here, she talks about the ups and downs she’s experienced living with the condition and how sharing her story has helped her grow her confidence.
Symptoms in Childhood
I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was just 2 years old, so I’ve never known life without it. I’m never sure if it would have been easier or harder to get diagnosed later in life!
Throughout my childhood, I used every steroid cream and treatment available to me; but, when I neared my teens, it just started getting worse and worse, probably due to hormones. At this point, my parents stumbled upon an alternative treatment center. This was almost 30 years ago, when places like this were much rarer.
Through alternative treatment, I ended up spending years trying out a more natural route, using diet and homeopathic remedies to target my psoriasis. The diet was so unbelievably strict that it made life very hard a lot of the time. The combination of diet and phototherapy treatment from a full-body lamp—which my parents bought me and I used religiously at home—did clear my skin. However, the psoriasis always came back, and sticking to that lifestyle made me feel miserable. I never really shared those feelings, either.
The Teen Years
I felt so different from everyone else and couldn’t do things that normal teenagers could. I couldn’t eat normal food (and using diet in this way, for any medical or health needs, was pretty much unheard of back then) and I couldn’t use typical beauty products. I wore clothes, even swimsuits, that covered as much of my body as possible and went out daily covered in greasy and stinging oils that ruined my clothes and hair.
However, despite all this, I had an amazing childhood and was happy. Unlike many people with psoriasis, I’m so lucky that I didn’t face much negativity. There was obviously the odd comment—unfortunately, that’s normal—but as much as it upset me, I didn’t let it affect me. I had brilliant friends that stuck by me and kept everything lighthearted.
Psoriasis Burnout Sets In
As I got older, I did start to find my psoriasis became much more tiring. Dealing with it day in, day out was exhausting, and the emotional and mental impact was becoming more noticeable to me. I was fed up with feeling different and missing out on things because of it. I was even refused a job because of it.
At the age of 30, I really had had enough and decided I needed to change my path; so, after seeking new advice, I ended up going to see a doctor that prescribed cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant medication. I spent four years on this, and it cleared me about 90 percent. It was incredible and I felt that I was living a normal life and was just like everyone else.
Managing Worsening Symptoms
However, I had to go off this medication and later that year became pregnant. A mixture of stopping the medication and pregnancy hormones sent my psoriasis absolutely off the rails. I became covered in it again, more than I had been for quite a few years. Mix this in with then becoming a new mum and dealing with everything that brings, I’d say this was my hardest time.
At the same time, I was also diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I felt so sad, worried, and down, and just couldn’t see how I would ever get out of this. But I had to keep going and get up and out every day for my baby daughter. I went back to my diets, which made me feel even more miserable, but I felt I had no choice. I battled to cover myself up as much as I could, but my psoriasis covered my face and neck, so it couldn’t be completely hidden. I felt tired, sore, and itchy—and just longed for relief.
Sharing My Story
It was around this time that I started writing a blog, which quickly led to my Instagram page. I did this thinking I’d be the only one but instantly found a whole community of people just like me. My page helped me vent. And as I was supporting other people, and they were supporting me, I gradually started to show my skin more.
My aim then became to raise awareness and make psoriasis more accepted, more normal, and more understood by people. Since then, I decided to stop all medications and ointments and continue totally naturally. I also discovered a skincare range that I fell in love with and I soon became an ambassador with my own little business. I couldn’t believe I was now someone with psoriasis who was showing it, becoming less ashamed and embarrassed by it—and that I was actually advising people on and selling beauty products!
I’ve since had a second baby and am now a mom to an almost -5- and almost-2-year-old. My psoriasis is fairly steady at a level I can deal with and am at peace with, but I’m by no means clear of it. I’m happy to talk about it and show it. I love that I’m helping it to be normalized and I am so unbelievably grateful for the online community. I so wish had been around when I was growing up. I’m now praying my children don’t get it; equally, I’m bringing them up to understand that people are all different, and that it's okay if you’re different in some way. What’s important is to be kind, caring, and accepting of others.
As much as psoriasis affected my confidence, I’d say, ultimately, it is now helping me to grow it. Don’t be afraid to let people see it and to help people see that it’s normal and shouldn’t be hidden. It may mean putting on a brave face, but it will be worth it, and anyone who says otherwise—or is mean—just isn’t worth listening to and doesn’t understand. And to people that don’t have psoriasis, I'd want them to know it is way more than just a skin condition; it affects the body and the mind in so many ways, so just be kind.
To learn more about Laura’s story, follow @laura_c_parish on Instagram.
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