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This week Marija is running online belly dance classes to raise awareness of psoriasis! To coincide with her event she tells us about her experiences of living with guttate psoriasis and how the support of her close family helped her to cope during some difficult flares.
My name is Marija (pronounced as Maria), I am 24 years old, born in Latvia and moved to the UK with my family in 2011.
I was first diagnosed with guttate psoriasis when I was 11 and I don’t remember much from my first flare up, my mum always told me that it didn’t bother me too much and I just got frustrated when she was trying yet another cream on me. We had no recollection of anyone in the family having psoriasis so it was very weird and scary to me at first.
After the first flare up, my skin behaved nicely and I only had patches on my elbow and my scalp which I learned to live with.
My second major flare up came at the worst time possible, I was in my final year of university with a new graduate job on the line and looking forward to wearing my summer dress for graduation. I am still asking myself what caused it, maybe it was the stress of university work, all that going out or eating a takeaway every other night. I won't ever know but one day I woke up with my scalp so sore I could barely brush my hair and tiny patches all over my body.
I started covering it up. I didn’t talk to anyone about it and just kept everything inside, I hadn’t even told my family because I didn't want them to be worried. It got so bad, that I felt like I couldn't hide it from my friends and all the comments and questions just made it worse. I knew the only person that could understand me and help me through this is my mum so I went home. I to this day remember her face when I actually took my hoodie off. She stayed so strong, had close to no reaction at all and just got into this action lady role with a plan for how we were going to fight this and reassured me that it’s going to be okay.
My main passion in life is belly dance. I have been doing it for almost 12 years and have started teaching classes. What affected me most is not feeling like I can do what I love, I cancelled all my performances and classes and wasn't sure if I would ever go back.
The flare up got worse and in the next 4 weeks I was pretty much 80% covered with psoriasis. I had exams coming up but it physically hurt doing even small things like sleeping and writing because psoriasis in my eyes was so itchy, and the skin on my elbows was cracked and bleeding most of the time. Even showering hurt as all the soaps were stinging!
It felt like a vicious cycle of me being stressed about my psoriasis getting worse and then because of all the stress it would make psoriasis worse so I really saw no end to it at all. I am so lucky that I have the most amazing mum and support from my family. I had given up so many times but my mum kept me on track with diet, creams, and everything she could do to make me feel better. The flare up had started healing after 3 months, it had left its scars but also taught me a lot of things.
If you are going through something similar I hope that you can see all the love from everyone in this community. Seeing that I am not alone and sharing the struggles really kept my spirits up. I flipped my mindset to “I am special” rather than “I am cursed” and it gave me confidence to wear what I want and embrace it which helped me live my life and not let psoriasis take control over it.
I feel like psoriasis is looked at as “just some itchy skin” and I hope that my story helps to spread awareness and gives people more insight into what it actually affects. It might look just like some itchy skin, but what is not really talked about are the mental battles we have with ourselves every single day.
Feel free to look more into my story on my @BGirlAlmighty Instagram account where I have documented some of it as it was happening.
From 17th to 22nd May Marija is running belly dance classes via Zoom to raise awareness of psoriasis. If you'd like to sign up or find out more please visit her belly dance Instagram account.