When I was 21 I noticed I had a rash on my right knee. I have had eczema my entire life, but this rash appeared much worse than ones I had previously experienced. Assuming that it was just a strange flair up, I applied my standard steroid cream and hoped for the best. A year later, and it was still there.
I am one to avoid doctors when I can. I’ve always had a negative experience with them as I’ve never been at what they consider a healthy weight. So not wanting to have yet another discussion surrounding my weight, I avoided them as long as possible. Having had this rash for a year, I was getting to the end of what I could handle. So I mustered up the courage and made an appointment. It turned out what I had was not eczema, but psoriasis. So my long journey started of spending hundreds of dollars on stronger and stronger topical corticosteroids, in the hope of some relief.
During this time I had been starting to date. I was not at a high point of self confidence, and these slowly spreading patches did nothing to help. I was embarrassed to show my body. There was this constant lingering fear of people taking one look at my skin and freaking out about contamination. (No, it is not contagious, but people are jerks)
I proceeded to only wear long pants, t-shirts, and hoodies. There was no way I was going to expose my body with this on my skin. The dating game is already tough for someone of my size, and this extra level of difficulty was not something I needed.
So, worrying that the majority of the population would look at me in disgust, I settled for the first person who could look at me and see something positive. That… was a mistake.
I will say that my case of psoriasis is not, by any means, the worst case of it. It does cover small patches very regularly, but most are fairly easy to cover, other than my ears and scalp. Sadly, it doesn’t take much for something like this to start impacting how you see yourself.
At this point in time I had no one who I could talk to about what was going on with my body. The only people I had seen with my condition were people much older than me, and people I read about online. There wasn’t that person I could discuss how all of this was making me feel. I felt isolated. I really just needed a friend.
Things with the first post-psoriasis diagnosis partner I had ended after a couple of sexless years. Surprisingly, you can’t base a relationship based on just settling for someone. So I once again was back to the terrifying world of dating.
At this point I had had enough of restricting myself, and had just moved to a much bigger city with a much bigger dating pool. I may have still been terrified of what others thought, but I was ready to give this fake self confidence thing a shot. Maybe if I forced myself to be ok with my body, I could convince myself it was fine.
And honestly… it kind of worked.
Surprisingly, most people were not turned off by it. Most people were just happy that I was willing to share my body with them. They didn’t see me as the monster I assumed they would. The odd person did mention the spots, but it was never in revulsion, but just a general curiosity and concern.
It wasn’t stopping people from finding me sexy, so why should it stop me from feeling the same?
It’s been 6 years since I was diagnosed. It still covers part of my knees and has spread to various other parts of my body. This summer, I wore a dress with no leggings for the first time. Ever. I have never felt this at peace with the large spots on my knees. I know they are not going to be gone forever, but I am no longer seeing them as the disgusting disfigurement I once did. While I am still struggling to fully love my body, I am no longer allowing this to stop me, and you shouldn’t too. Love yourself and take care of your body.
If you don’t know anything about psoriasis, here is a bit of information to get you caught up:
According to mayoclinic.org, “psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that often comes and goes.” Basically, if you have psoriasis, the T cells that normally defend your body against things such as viruses or bacteria instead attach healthy skin cells.
It is a chronic autoimmune condition that sadly has no cure. It can be managed through various treatments, such as topical corticosteroids, sprays, and injections.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it is known to be hereditary. If you think you may have psoriasis, please talk to a dermatologist.