When it's skin deep
Ever since I’ve moved to Dallas, my skin has been in a constant battle with my brain. It itches. It cracks. It dries up and flakes. I’ve gone from outraged to embarrassed to frustrated to resigned. I’ve tried at least four different types of moisturizer and it has taken me over two months for my body to adjust from the warm, wet towel of Houston weather to the arid climes of the New City. It’s annoying to say the least. But I scratch and slather in relative silence.
Because my sister has it worse. Siri was diagnosed with psoriasis her senior year of college. Although we’re not certain why it was triggered so late, we guess it may have been a reaction to the stresses of being on the NCAA rowing team, looming senior thesis and my grandfather’s passing. What we thought was originally an infected bug bite turned into big red patches all over her arms and legs.
My sister has never been one with confidence issues. She’s the one, out of the two of us, who wears a variety of different hats with swagger - the artist, the knitter, the boxer, the runner. She knows what she can and can’t do and doesn’t care about what others say. And she’s never been worried before, not even through the brutality of high school superficiality, of what she’s looked like.
But she does now. On the hottest of summer days, she covers her arms and legs. No shorts or tank tops for her. She worries about it spreading, especially to her face. And as a result, we worry about her. We don’t worry about what people will think when they see her ravaged skin. Instead, we worry about what she will think, of what they think. We worry about it hurting her confidence and sense of self.
Psoriasis runs in the family. After Siri was diagnosed, I’ve been to the dermatologist for it as well and we have both refused topical steroid treatment. Mine is in the < 1% range whereas hers is classified as mild to moderate. Even though the worst that it is for me is a minor bother and maybe more applications of coconut oil, I’m glad to do it and I’m not afraid of it getting worse. The skin we share allows me to step, for a second, into my sister’s shoes and gain some perspective into her life. She is not alone.