color sketch of artist Annelyse Camille C. Andal

How One Artist Is Bringing Hope to Others with Psoriasis

May 31, 2022

By day, she’s a lawyer in the Philippines, but the rest of the time, 27-year-old Annelyse Camille C. Andal is known as Resting Itch Face (@_restingitchface), an artist who advocates for acceptance and body positivity on behalf of people with psoriasis and other chronic illnesses. Through her digital illustrations, Anneylse shares others’ stories—including ups and downs, pain and healing, and everything in between—to let people know they’re not alone.

We talked to Annelyse to hear more about her experience with psoriasis, how a diagnosis led her to art, and how sharing her illustrations online has helped her and others cope with chronic illness.

What was your journey to your psoriatic diagnosis like?

Ever since I was young, I’d regularly find a random rash or two on my body. I also struggled with a bunch of symptoms such as joint pain, muscle aches, stomach problems, migraines, and fainting spells all throughout high school and until I was in law school. These symptoms tend to magnify when I’m stressed or when I’m going through a major life change.

All these years, I struggled to find a diagnosis. I would jump from one doctor’s appointment to another, yet I was only able to get an official diagnosis in late 2019 or early 2020. I was diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. After I wasn’t responding to treatment, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

What made you start illustrating people with psoriasis and posting it online?

After I was diagnosed, I turned to digital art as a coping mechanism. My first few posts about psoriasis are line art pieces that I drew because I was feeling so many things all at once and didn’t have the avenue to express those emotions.

Eventually, I started the Flawed but Beautiful initiative, which is a movement that advocates for self-acceptance and body positivity. Basically, I make commissioned art for those who are dealing with skin conditions, chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, and mental health problems. It encourages psoriasis warriors to love the skin that they are in, despite their perceived imperfections. It inspires those living with chronic illness to come out and tell their story of bravery and overcoming.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome as someone with psoriasis?

It’s hard to accept the fact that you’ll be dealing with this for the rest of your life. I had a difficult time asking for help because I didn’t want to become a burden, especially when I was struggling with doing the littlest things because of my psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. It’s difficult to keep a positive outlook when you feel like you’re not making any progress, and when you’re letting the people around you down.

Another major hurdle was that I had to put my life on pause in a way, since I was used to a life that’s busy and fast-paced. My illness forced me to slow down and take a break. I stopped taking classes in the middle of what was supposed to be my last year in law school, and I took a break from my freelance work, as well. My illness impacted my social life, too—I stopped going out and seeing my friends.

How has the Instagram community helped support you on your psoriasis journey?

Doing illustrations for myself, and especially for others through the Flawed but Beautiful initiative, has definitely inspired me to push through. I found my health dramatically improved after I was introduced to the psoriasis community through Instagram.

Everyone whom I’ve talked to or interacted with has had an important role in my healing. It was uplifting to know that I wasn’t alone, that there are others who are going through the same thing and that they’re thriving. Eventually, I realized that this has helped me accept my condition.

The thought of having someone whom you can talk to without being judged and whom you can lean on for support, even if you don’t personally really know them, is beyond comforting. I find myself turning to the online psoriasis community when I’m experiencing tough times because I know that they’ll understand it. Sometimes, it’s easier to confide in people you don’t know because you’re able to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged, misunderstood, and invalidated.

What advice would you give to someone with psoriasis who's struggling?

Take your time, sit with the pain, feel all the negativity, and embrace all the hardships that your chronic illness can bring. Take as much time as you need. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a few months or a few years to finally accept your diagnosis; what’s important is that you find acceptance eventually. Take it one day at a time.

You won’t notice it, but you’re getting better. You’re healing, and you’re making progress. Give yourself some credit—in fact, give yourself a lot of credit. Recognize your achievements, even when they seem insignificant to others. Root for yourself. Cheer for your own healing. Be your own advocate and cheerleader.

Finally, you’re not alone in this journey. Get help. Seek help. There’s a huge psoriatic disease community that’s welcoming and supportive. If you don’t have a support system at home, we will be your support system. We’re here for you, and we’re here with you.

Let people in. The burden becomes lighter when you let others carry it with you.

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