Alice has had psoriasis since she was 10 years old. In this conversation, she opens up about her mental health journey with skin and self-acceptance.
During my teenage years, I spent a lot of time covering myself up with a thick mousse foundation. It’s a very chalky mousse foundation. I would slather it all on my face, and then I’d just be like - “yep, perfect, problem solved.”
“But, I definitely hadn’t solved the problem. I hid behind that for so long. As a teenager, I had convinced myself that I had to do this to be attractive. I felt like it was what society expected of me. I felt really resigned. I felt like - “this is just my life from now on.” Looking back, I know now that this is a really damaging view.”
“I never told my friends. I just didn’t share it. I just felt like it was my burden to bear. Before I started getting treatment, the patches would get really thick. I used to have a black blazer that I had to wear to school, and I’d just have flakes all over my blazer. It used to make me so insecure. People would try and give me their perspective, but that didn’t help. Even so, I was really outgoing, and I tried to go for the punchline at all times. I was always trying to be that funny person.”
“In retrospect, I think I was being a comic to mask that insecurity that I had. Underneath my clothes and my makeup, I knew what my skin looked like. Deep down, I thought that people wouldn’t like me because of it. So, I felt like I needed to make up for that. I felt like I needed to do things that would make people like me. It was a projection honestly. Behind closed doors, I was in a dark place, I had symptoms of depression, and I had appearance anxiety. Back then, I remember looking at myself and feeling incurable. I was always looking in the mirror at my skin. It was very very obsessive. I would just look in the mirror and be like - you're gonna be like this for life.”
“Every waking moment that I was alone, I thought about my skin. I would wait for the patches to heal. When psoriasis heals, it heals from the middle, but then it leaves a ring. I would watch with apprehension for that ring to form because when it did, I felt like I was doing something right. When in reality, there’s actually so many things that impact psoriasis. I don’t think it getting better or worse was based on me. I realize now that I can’t give myself worth based on the condition of my skin.”
“But growing up, I was very convinced that nobody would love me. I was only 16, and I felt like I needed to make myself attractive and that I needed to find myself a partner. But now, honestly, I just vibe, and I’m not concerned about anything like that. It doesn’t bother me. If I find someone who can accept my skin, that’s great. If someone doesn’t want to accept my skin and makes comments about it behind my back, then I don’t want anything to do with them, and I don’t want to be friends with them.
“Before, I used to feel really sad, but I didn’t know why I was sad. I used to ask myself when I was sad - why are you sad? It’s only been these past couple of years that I’ve been able to connect the dots so to speak.”
“Now, I’m actually doing a master of science in mental health. I chose this partly because of my experiences. Most of the time, when you go to your general practitioner about your skin, they won’t acknowledge your mental health even though the comorbidities between skin and mental health is very prevalent. That’s why I want to take action. The first time I talked to my GP about my mental health was in relation to my skin. They told me - “just keep taking your steroids, you’ll feel better,” but they didn’t acknowledge my mental health. They thought my mental health problems would go away once my patches went away. That wasn’t the case, so now I’m looking at the correlation between skin conditions and mental health. I’m hoping that my presence on Instagram also helps me get participants for my research. This research has taken over my life in a great way, and I hope to make change.”