Energy to Autonomy
By: Ele Girling
As I got ready for bed yesterday, I rubbed my forehead and a few scales of skin fell from my face. It sounds unappealing but I’m used to it by now and I am aware that it isn’t my fault - and it has never been. Instead, I picked up my moisturizer and started to rub on my face, arms, chest, back, stomach and even behind my ears. I pick up my oil and do the same. My skin, although it has its problems, is the best it’s been in a long time. I realized recently that doing something is better than doing nothing.
My skin is red often, itchy sometimes and annoying always. I’ve never written about my psoriasis before. I’ve never felt like it was something to share, admit or talk about. It has never defined me before, yet I’m coming to realize that it isn’t a bad thing if I allow it to be a part of who I am.
Before, I never really paid attention to my skin. Having eczema as a child led me to believe my skin would always have marks - I could live with that. Psoriasis was different though, it was a constant battle. One I wasn’t winning.
I am lucky enough to have a boyfriend who will protect me from any stress or worry he sees coming my way. He helps me test different moisturizers and suggests new ways of reducing the scales. Recently we were in Nigeria with his family. My skin was going through a bad patch (the bad patches are more frequent than the good ones, if I’m honest) when his brother asked me: “What’s happened on your forehead?”
Being in another culture and climate, my stress levels were already quite high. My boyfriend knew how tense and embarrassed I would get about my skin if anyone brought it up. So he jumped in and said it was the new shampoo I had been using and also, it might be a reaction to the water. I felt relieved and protected.
I’m not sure what it was, but a few seconds later I found myself turning to my brother-in-law and I felt an energy come out of nowhere. The energy lead to me say: “Actually, I have a chronic condition that causes my skin to do this.” That was the moment I realized that the only thing more awkward than someone pointing out your skin is not explaining the truth of why it is the way it is.
I had a chest infection when I was 20. The doctor claimed that the rashes on my chest were temporary and would fade once the antibiotics fixed the chest infection: they didn’t. Then I moved to London and my psoriasis got a lot worse, I still don’t know why.
I couldn’t control what happened back then but I am in control now. I wake up every morning and have a new ritual for my shower; hot water then soap, warm water and shower gel followed by scrubbing, washing my hair and cold water to finish. When I step out the shower I air dry and then moisturize. Finally, I use my jojoba oil and sometimes vaseline to protect my skin.
I’m on the list for phototherapy treatment according to my hospital, but it has been over a year and nothing has materialized yet. In a way, waiting can establish an internal fight to begin yourself. I have autonomy over my skin now because I am aware that no one is able to fix it for me. Most treatments will be temporary, so we should all take steps to start loving our skin now. Simple, consistent care tips make such a difference and even when they don’t - they make me feel better.
If you want to know more about this skin condition, visit psoriasis.org