An Open Letter To Any Woman Struggling To Love Herself With Psoriasis

You deserve love.

When we are struggling with self-acceptance, we tend to crave external love for validation. The truth is, the love you need the most is from within you. I learned through my journey that the acceptance I longed for had to come from within, for me to feel complete.

Without treatment, I am 90% covered with psoriasis. This disease took my body captive when I was 7 years old. The flaky, inflamed, purple, dry patches of skin took my body hostage, forcing me to surrender to its presence.

I remember growing up feeling inadequate. I felt unattractive. I didn’t think anyone could love me with my condition. I was scared to be intimate. I felt misunderstood. Honestly, some days I felt outright gross. I figured if I thought these things about myself, there was no way anyone outside of me would accept it. I didn’t love myself. I imagined life would be better and more exciting if I could rid of my psoriasis once and for all. I envisioned myself being psoriasis free and considered the “pretty girl.” Something that never seems to apply with my diseased skin. I dreamed of going to the pool without worrying about people questioning my patches. I daydreamed about buying the clothes I wanted, without worrying about how I would cover my disease. I longed for the day when I wouldn’t have to explain it to a potential love interest. I could be free to live my best life… If I could just conquer and rid my body of this annoying disease once and for all.

I was at war with psoriasis, and I tried everything to fight it. I attempted to defeat it with phototherapy, pills, cremes, and prayers. Then finally my psoriasis met its match. A secret weapon that wasn’t to my disposal until adulthood – biologics.

I tried my first biologic in 2013, and great results happened fast. I went from being 90% covered to 80% psoriasis free. I had some stubborn patches on my legs, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Two years later, after my first biologic stopped working, my doctor prescribed me a second injection, which cleared me 100%. For the first time in my life, I was somewhat free from psoriasis.

At the time, there was no trace of the disease. If you didn’t know me before starting my treatment, you wouldn’t have believed how bad my skin previously was.

Finally, I took advantage of doing all I ever wanted to do that I refused to do because of psoriasis. When I became psoriasis free, I thought I would find peace, an immense amount of self-love, and confidence.

But to my surprise I didn’t…

I was 100% psoriasis free, yet I still struggled with acceptance and love for myself. That’s the moment I discovered; psoriasis wasn’t what I needed to escape. It was low self-esteem and a lack of unconditional love for myself, that was the real enemy holding me hostage.

The truth is until there is a cure, I will never truly escape psoriasis. Even when you find a treatment that works, there is always a chance that the treatment can fail, hence placing you at risk to have a flare. Due to this fact, I can never truly be psoriasis free, even with an effective treatment.

What I want to share with you today, is find the ability to love yourself right where you are. Don’t wait until you are psoriasis free. Don’t wait until you find a treatment that works. You deserve love right now as you are.

The next question might be, “Ok, easy to say, but how do I do it?” Everyone’s journey will be different. But I found love for myself in the following ways:

I invest in therapy. This helped me find the root of my low self-esteem, and since then, I’ve been on a mission to healing. Things that use to bother me, don’t anymore.

I found an online support group. Connecting with others living with the disease has helped me not feel alone and provides support when I’m having a bad day with my condition.

I only surround myself with people who genuinely support me. It’s easy to enter one-sided or harmful relationships due to psoriasis and the need for acceptance. Psoriasis can make you feel like you have to settle for whatever, but you don’t.

I recite affirmations. This only works if you absolutely believe what you are saying. Find at least two statements you truly believe, look in the mirror, and say them every day for 30 days. Evaluate if it’s working in the first month and then continue the trend.

My self-care is a top priority. Self-care can come in a variety of forms, but you must do what works for you. Make a list of 10 things that make you feel amazing and do them more, especially when you are having a hard time. Sometimes you even have to force it, but once you start it should help your mood. For me, self-care is taking myself to a nice dinner or going to the beach.

I show myself self-compassion. Do you ever notice that you are way harsher on yourself than those around you? Do your thoughts corrode your mind on how you aren’t good enough? This use to be me. Now, I intercede those thoughts with self-compassion. I shower myself with love, grace, and patience. Sometimes the negative thoughts get so loud in my head, I have to speak encouragement to myself out loud.

I accept myself, no matter the circumstance. When you suffer from low self-esteem, acceptance of self takes practice. But with the tools I mentioned above, I have genuinely found the ability to love and accept myself. I also realize that I have to accept who I am when I’m not feeling my best, when I fall victim to old habits, or when old feelings creep in. I accept that I am imperfect, but everything about me makes me who I am and is happening for a reason.

Accepting your disease and truly loving yourself takes time. This didn’t happen for me over night. I’ve been doing extensive self-work for the last 6 years, for change that typically appears in small ways, but is worth it. I hope my journey gives you the encouragement to start your own process of acceptance and self-love.

Please understand, psoriasis is not stopping you from loving yourself. Your ideas of perfection and the feelings of inadequacies is the true enemy. Puck these things out your life, then you will experience self-love, and the presence or disappearance of psoriasis will no longer matter.

Media relations professional, award-winning writer and community advocate.