22.10.14

How To Get Over Yourself | Living Happily with Vitiligo


I've been planning this post for what seems like a very long time.

For day six of Alex Beadon's Feel Good Blogging Challenge, she's asked us to post a vulnerable story. The very first thing that popped into my head was my experience with my vitiligo.

It occurred to me several months ago that my personal story with vitiligo might make a good blog post. So it was scheduled into my content calendar for the month of October, but honestly I just hadn't gotten around to it.

So here's the little push I needed. Get ready to dive headfirst into my childhood...

Summer 1999

My best friend Caitlyn and I lived just a couple blocks from our elementary school and we always walked home during our lunch break. On this particular day, I went to my house and she went to hers and after lunch, she walked over to my house to pick me up before we would walk back to school.

"Were you drinking milk at lunch?" she asked me.

I told her no, with a confused look. She told me I had a milk moustache.

I walked into the bathroom and stared at my face in the mirror. I leaned in closer. It did look like I had white around my mouth. I tried washing my face and mouth but the white remained.

Over the next several weeks there were many doctor visits and tests carried out. I still find this crazy, but the doctors we saw were stumped. It wasn't until my mom discovered the skin disorder vitiligo online and brought it to their attention. They had found their diagnosis.

Vitiligo
Vit - i - li - go
A condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause.

Also incurable.

You might know of it as the skin disorder Michael Jackson had. Or you may have seen it on America's Next Top Model contestant Chantelle Brown-Young.

Over the next several years the white patches spread.
I had a ring of white around my mouth and eyes, and circular splotches on my forehead. They showed up on all of my joints - fingers, wrists, elbows, armpits, hips, knees, ankles and feet. I had patches traveling the front of my shins, forearms and lower abdomen.
I was truly covered.

I spent the next 8 years:
Covered in the highest SPF sunscreen I could find and constantly seeking out shade during the Summer.
Trying a million different brands of sunless tanner and makeup in an effort to cover up the most noticeable spots.
Wearing plenty of long sleeve shirts and pants often even in the hottest months.

But by far the hardest part of dealing with this disorder throughout my adolescence was coping with the bullying and ignorance of others.

Now the point of this post is not to receive sympathy or pity, but to help you understand that the journey to acceptance wasn't an easy one. But I got there eventually, and since coming to this one simple conclusion, I was able to completely turn my life around.

It finally occurred to me,

Nobody's going to make a big deal about it, IF I DON'T.

That was a turning point for me.
I wanted to be more than just a shadow, I wanted to stand out in a positive way. I wanted to live my life without fear of what other people would say and would think about my appearance. I wanted a normal life.

Have you ever heard the expression fake it 'till you make it?

Well I began to live my life around that saying. I knew who I wanted to be, I had my role models and so I faked my confidence. I was a big fat phoney and simply started acting completely different.
I chose to act happy, confident, outgoing and beautiful. I found my sense of humour again, my sense of playfulness.

I stopped hiding in the shade and I started embracing the sun. I wore what I wanted and didn't care who saw my skin or what they said about it. It didn't matter.

I turned it all around, because I chose to.

Literally, everything changed after that. Not only did I start to attract more friends and healthier relationships, but my vitiligo actually started re-pigmentating.

Now, I can't say whether or not my choice to change had anything to do with my healing, but it's an awfully big coincidence, no?

If you are currently living with vitiligo, you need to stop suffering. I cringe every time I read that word on a vitiligo website or support group, "those of us SUFFERING from vitiligo,"

WE DON'T HAVE TO SUFFER THROUGH IT.

The more negativity we tie to this non-debilitating disorder, the harder it is to accept as normal and as a part of our lives. You don't have to love it. You don't even have to like it. But you need to put your positive pants on and realize that it isn't the skin disorder holding you back from the living a life you love, it's you.

It all starts with you.

You can be miserable or you can make yourself stronger. You have to make the choice.
Do you want to continue living a half-ass version of the only life you have? Beating yourself up over the only body you've been given? Will you let your vitiligo define you? Destroy you?

Or will you choose happiness?

These are the cards you were dealt. This is your life. You need to learn to accept yourself so that you can allow others to do the same, it's that simple.
I said it before, here it is again:
No one will make it into a big deal, if you don't... And if they do?  F*** em.


No comments:

Post a Comment