It’s Just Psoriasis, It’s Not Contagious

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As I brave my winter skin, I also brace myself for the stares and comments that come along with it. As a New York native, I can say I am fairly accustomed to the bizarre and odd things that one sees in this city. Cirque du Soleil on the train… questionable food on the streets sold from even more questionable vans… fashion statements galore… you name it, we have it. But what happens when you are on the other end of the staring?

I don’t care how long you have Psoriasis, you never get used to the stares. You never get used to the moving of seats on the train just to get away from you. You never get used to the questions. And, oddly enough, for a city that considers itself so diverse and open-minded, I think we can be one of the most close minded cities in the world.

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I’ll never forget standing on the street one day waiting for my car to be taken out of valet. A little kid, maybe four or five years old, was getting out of the car with his parents and he asked his mom if she thought all the bug bites on my skin hurt. It was maybe one of the most innocent things I had encountered concerning my disease. He didn’t mean anything by it and it was almost sweet. But the way it hit me and hurt me will never leave me. Kids can be so innocent and so raw.

Walking by unusual people every day never bothered me. It still doesn’t. But to suddenly be my own little side show was surprising to me. I never really saw it that way but I was this little freak roaming the streets of New York. I didn’t fit in! And all because of my SKIN!

I think my point is… take it with a grain of salt. Try not to slide your sleeves down to make people feel comfortable, or sit by yourself on the train away from everyone intentionally. If someone has an issue with your skin, let them ask you about it. You’ll be surprised how many people will sigh when you say, “it’s just psoriasis. it’s not contagious.”

My Psoriasis “Family”

A few months ago I was introduced to an amazing group of people that I like to call my “Pso. Family”, and that’s exactly what they are to me (minus the Italian screaming across the table and the occasional “Fuggetaboutit”). Even though psoriasis affects 3% of the worlds population, that’s approximately 125 million people worldwide*, the community of people who are willing to speak about it is relatively small. This doesn’t surprise me. We have become so accustomed to covered our skin condition literally with clothes and even just hiding indoors that we seem to have incorporated this stigma with us in a mental capacity.

I am fortunate enough to be an advocate and volunteer for The National Psoriasis Foundation. This invitation has not only opened so many amazing doors for me but it has allowed me to interact and welcome fellow psoriasis sufferers into my life. Not only are these people my support system, my friends, my colleagues, and my heroes in a lot of ways but they are also my second family.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about your psoriasis, I highly recommend finding a support system that listens to you when you need to talk and supports you when you need to be lifted up a bit. There are so many things to dislike about this disease but my Pso. Family is not one of them. Find your “family” and I promise it will make a world of difference for you and your skin.

Now can somebody pass the meatballs and sauce??? Fuggetaboutit!

*Psoriasis.org