Letters to Psoriasis Fighters #2: Reforming Identity
2020 marks the 13th year that I have been living with psoriasis. Throughout the years, I think I have pretty much gone through it all - from being ashamed and angry, to transcending beyond the identity of a victim and ultimately came out of the whole journey as a fighter. Not only embracing my journey, but also using it to empower others. After being an active advocate for 2 years and talking to so many fighters from all around the world, I learnt that our journeys are so similar. I only wished that I knew this earlier, so I would not have felt so alone back then.
Though 13 years have passed, I could still remember vividly the experience of my diagnosis. The moment the doctor diagnosed me with psoriasis and told me that it has absolutely no cure, it was as if I was given a death sentence, the funny thing was I didn’t even know I committed a crime.
Being affected by a skin condition at the tender age of 13 up until young adulthood was rough, because 99% of my life revolved around my skin. After going through multiple therapies that didn’t work, I was also dealing with a lot of anger, grief and frustration due to all these abrupt changes. I had my teenage life stolen from me. I was living as a psoriasis patient, an angry and frustrated victim, living in shame and fear. I wished that I had some sort of guidance back then, it would have made it so much more bearable.
Then I asked myself, “How could I know myself better, and even go beyond my skin to appreciate and love myself for who I am, when my whole teenage life was caught up in this emotional mess because of psoriasis?” The answer was close to impossible.
In the previous Safe Space Session “Reforming Identity,” we talked about this topic and many of participants shared the same sentiments when it comes to the struggle of knowing and loving ourselves. Some of the challenges include: lack of confidence, the difficulty dealing with the public's opinion about our skin, negative thoughts about ourselves, overly daunting self-doubts and also, the pain of giving up on some of our dreams.
If you are a psoriasis fighter yourself, I guess these things are nothing new to you. Hence, we looked at rebuilding our identity beyond our skin during the session. We explored interesting theories for self-identity, learned some tools and practices to explore more sides of ourselves, understood more of what true confidence really is and we also took a deep dive into forming powerful beliefs.
Many participants found relief in learning about all these knowledges, information and most importantly awareness. Many were shocked to learn how our past experience and trauma that happened years ago, stayed with us until today and wrote the script of our lives unknowingly.
In awareness itself we have the power to slowly change our perceived-self and beliefs, so we are able to rewrite the script of our lives.
Change is powerful but also scary, but I want to tell you that the support exists, you do not need to be alone in this journey.
We may have to give up some of our dreams but maybe we are meant to pursue other things in life;
We may have been traumatized by other people’s hurtful comments, but we are 100% capable of picking ourselves up, forgive them, and move on as a better person;
and we may have been hating ourselves and our bodies but at any moment we can decide to see ourselves in a new light and rebuild ourselves with a better and stronger sense of self, and ultimately embrace ourselves as we are.
We may not have perfect skin, but we can have a beautiful smile.
We may not have perfect skin, but we can have a beautiful life,
We may not have perfect skin, but we are capable to love and be loved,
Wherever you are on your journey, let us keep moving forward, together.
By Rocyie Wong
Photograph By Tiffany Lee