I started seeing George in the beginning of my second year of college. It was a great, no-strings-attached, friends with benefits “relationship” that was fun and carefree.
After a couple of weeks of seeing each other, to my dismay, I started developing guttate psoriasis plaques all over my body. I had never before been with someone during a flare up, so I thought this was the end of our fun. I wanted to just end the relationship rather than telling him about the psoriasis, or worse, having him see the rash all over my body.
After all, who would be attracted to someone with disgusting, scaly skin?
Even with my apprehensions, I needed to give George a reason for ending things so abruptly. We had been good friends before the physical or romantic part of our relationship began, so I decided to suck it up and tell him the truth.
To my surprise, he didn’t care in the slightest, or at least, he said he didn’t.
But, as my guttate psoriasis progressed and worsened, I became less and less comfortable around George. I was stressed, constantly sick, and my confidence and physical attractiveness (I believed) were at an all-time low.
Despite these insecurities, George stuck around, never complained, and always tried to make me feel as confident and beautiful as possible.
Soon after, we made our relationship exclusive and officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. I should have been overjoyed, but I was too scared. It seemed too good to be true that such a kind, funny, smart, and ~sexy boy would choose me right now.
A couple of weeks into our relationship, George invited me to Montreal for New Year’s Eve. My psoriasis was looking better, and it finally looked like the tide was turning. Eager to show off my healed skin, I went shopping with my Christmas money and bought a beautiful, backless, black velvet dress to wear to the party. But, a couple of days before my flight to Montreal, my psoriasis re-emerged worse and more widespread than ever. I wanted this trip to be perfect, and in my mind, now it was ruined. Completely heartbroken, I confessed the state of my skin to George over the phone (he hadn’t seen me in a couple of weeks, as we were both home for winter break), who reassured me that
I was perfect just the way that I was and that we were going to have the most amazing time in Montreal together.
I ended up wearing the dress to the New Year’s party, and whenever I reminisce about George’s and my trip to Montreal together, I’m always filled with happy memories, not memories of my psoriasis. George was right.
During that trip and in the months following (when my psoriasis was at its worst), George always made me feel sexy and perfect. He always reassured me that I would have clear skin eventually, and he always made me feel comfortable in my own skin (pun intended).
My guttate psoriasis is still not gone, but I am still with George. He has said many things over the course of our relationship to support me and my psoriasis, but the one that resonated the most was a text I received after telling him that I would likely always have psoriasis from now on. It said:
“You mean a lot to me. Psoriasis means very little.”
If you are suffering from a rare disease and feel alone, George is proof that there are good people out there. If you know someone, romantically or not, who is suffering from a rare disease, take a lesson from George.
Be supportive, optimistic, patient, and reassuring. Don’t trivialize the condition, don’t force a premature acceptance of the condition, and don’t let the condition get in the way of the time that you spend together.
Make sure they know that they mean a lot to you, and the disease means very little.
This article is dedicated to my amazing boyfriend.