Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fighting the monster

Plaque Psoriasis, by definition, is a immunity disease that affects the skin. It is genetic, and though there are treatments, there is no known cure. It is irritating, painful, and highly embarrassing. Several things may contribute to an outbreak including physical or emotional stress, illness or dehydration. I have moderate Psoriasis, meaning it covers up to 50%-60% of my body surface at a time. Anywhere there is skin there is potential for an outbreak. The first real outbreak I remember having was my first summer away from home. I had no idea what it was, and it proved impossible for campus doctors to diagnose. I was treated with steroid cream (which did help for a small amount of time), anti-histamines, anti-fungal, and anti-mite cures. During this process, I had to tell my boyfriend at the time I couldn't touch him for fear of being contagious. There were, and still are, jokes flying around of my "Leprosy." The only thought I can respond with is, Leprosy has a cure. Needless to say none of the treatments or doctor advise worked. Finally, after a lot of research and comparison, I found my diagnosis and, with the help of my husband, have slowly been able to create a "system" (for lack of a better word) that reduced pain and irritation from current breakouts, and also reduced the frequency and severity of future ones. My skin was looking good.

About a month before Ethan was born the breakouts began again. They have increased in severity without slowing down in frequency, and nothing I have done has made any kind of difference. This, added with a postpartum body, not getting a shower every day and very little thought of natural beauty, has made my daily encounter with the mirror defeating. I do not tell you this to gain pity. I can provide too much of that for myself, though chocolate donations are more than welcome! Instead I tell you this as a very long way of getting to my real point, but you must indulge me my ramblings a little longer. Hopefully my point will become clear.

One thing you must understand is that I have a wonderful husband. He treats me better than a queen. He sincerely tells me, numerous times a day, how beautiful I am. This is kindness I have been surviving on. Not that I let my thoughts of my own personal appearance interfere with my responsibilities to my son or husband, but this kindness fights those thoughts when the work is done. There will always be that time of quiet and reflection in which we must face ourselves. You may say "Why isn't your husbands praise enough? After all, he has a better view point than you," and you would be right to a point. When we cannot see we must sometimes rely on the sight of others. But the monster will always rear its ugly head again; and though Derek's vision is truer and clearer than mine and may quiet the roaring, it cannot kill the threat. It cannot save me. This is an internal monster and cannot be slayed with an external weapon. I have survived on borrowed harmony for too long.

This post may have revealed vanity in me that has lessened respect for my rational mind, but I feel this is an evil shared widely, especially among women. There are too many weapons for the enemy. The influences that would strengthen us are often drowned in shallow glory. Each one must decide to fight this battle on their own. I have decided to fight. Our best weapon is ourselves. Those things that are good about us, those talents we have, the love that is given us, what we can do for others, and knowledge of personal worth. These are our internal weapons and without them we have little hope of success. Find them. Magnify and cultivate them. True beauty shines through sincere happiness. And remember, as it says on my grandmother's fridge, "God don't make junk."

Update: As you may have found out from my later posts, my skin condition may not be plaque psoriasis, thank goodness. I have been gluten-free for a while and my skin has completely cleared up, so it may be that I have DH instead. While the symptoms are very similar there is a major difference in treatment possibilities. I have yet to be diagnosed but this new development offers a new outlook for my skin's future. Yay!

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