I have had psoriasis since 1963. I was five years old. This disease is an autoimmune disease that causes patches to grow on the skin. I have been told that this disease mostly affects the elbows, scalp and knees. For me; it attacked 70–80%of my body for 40 years.

Before I became an advocate for psoriasis, I used to work across the street from the Nation’s Capital in Washington, DC. I would watch people go and come all day long in their power suits and high heel shoes. I kept saying to myself that one day I would work there.

I always had a bad case of psoriasis. When I took jobs, they were safe jobs where people didn’t ask questions or care about how my skin looked. I was ashamed, embarrassed and stuck in a shell. One day I got up enough nerve to walk across the street and apply for a job.

Troubles Having a Job While Coping With Psoriasis

It took 3 months for them to hire me as a waitress on Capitol Hill in 1985. My government issue uniform was a white dress (short sleeve) and I had to wear sheer pantyhose. I wanted to quit right then and there, but I knew I would find a way to get around this.

The month was July, it had to be 90 degrees outside. I went shopping that week to get ready for my new career. Here’s what I discovered:

  • I had to wear four pairs of pantyhose at a time, but they had to be the right shade against my skin.
  • The shade closest to my skin had to be darker than the outer layers. This made it seem like I had on sheer pantyhose.
  • I brought cute little sweaters and told my supervisor that I was always cold.

I had felt isolated and alone as a teenager, but now I was in my 20’s and I felt totally useless. I was angry and so ashamed of how I looked. I didn’t have a social life or any kind of communications with my peers because I didn’t want to be around people who had on cute little dresses and cute shoes. I didn’t own anything cute. I was just depressed all the time. When I did get to speak to a psychologist about my problem, he said I was crying on the inside, but smiling on the outside.

Problems Still Arising for a Psoriasis Patient Advocate

The thing that bothers me to this day is that I have seem a doctor my whole life. You can read about more about my difficulty getting a diagnosis on Health Union’s Plaque Psoriasis blog. How can you see a dermatologist for over 40 years and still be covered from head to toe in scales? Did they just not care? Or, did I not do enough or ask enough questions?

The first time I ever remember hearing the word psoriasis was on a tv commercial back in the 70’s. It was the heartbreak of psoriasis. It talked about dry skin and dandruff and if you had those symptoms you had psoriasis. I don’t remember what cream they were advertising, but I just remember thinking; what a crock!!

In my mind, I knew that one day I would be strong enough to overcome these things that were holding me back. I knew that one day I would be enough to fight this and I did. You are never alone in this journey,