How Vitiligo Impacted My Life
Over the years I have always tried to think about my vitiligo as little as possible, but deep down I have often felt isolated and – in a way – alienated, despite having supportive parents. But then I became aware of the Vitiligo Society and realised I was not alone in having to contend with this condition on a daily basis. Reading about research and hearing others’ experiences helped me to feel less isolated and to give me some hope that one day a cure would be found. I would recommend to anyone affected by this condition to join the society - or an equivalent society in your country of residence - at least visit their website. Of course, the internet has radically changed the situation over recent years and social media in particular now means that no one need suffer alone. There are many vitiligo groups and forums out there where we can support each other and swap knowledge and experiences.
Growing Up With Vitiligo
In my late teens and early 20s I enjoyed being a student, and travelling, and having a good social life and a great bunch of close friends. My vitiligo and the need to conceal it was never very far from my mind, but I was too occupied to let it slow me down very much. I was successful at not only hiding it from others but even managing to forget about it myself most of the time. My anxiety and depression over it would occasionally surface when a new boyfriend would come on the scene and I would worry about him noticing something wrong with my skin and dread having to explain what it was (mainly because almost no one seemed to have heard of it).
I longed to be the carefree person I had been in early childhood but found myself constrained by all sorts of considerations...
Throughout my late 20s and 30s I found my vitiligo a significant psychological burden to bear, even though I was married by then and my husband has always been understanding and never thought me anything other than beautiful. It had spread quite considerably by then and seemed to impact on every area of my life. I longed to be the carefree person I had been in early childhood but found myself constrained by all sorts of considerations like: the need to select clothes that would give me sufficient camouflage, the importance of never being seen without make-up on, the difficulties of avoiding social situations like beach holidays with friends or trips to the swimming baths, where I might have to reveal inadequately camouflaged skin. Before going on summer holidays I would have to spend hours applying self tan to intricately patterned areas of white skin that looked like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. And in hot climates, I would long to lie in the sun with everyone else but would constantly dive for cover every time I felt myself burning or starting to sweat off the fake tan. I found myself having to do the opposite of everyone else around me: as the weather became sunnier everyone else would take garments off and I would put more on! This kind of experience made me feel like an outsider, a fusspot, and made me wonder if others felt I was being aloof or unfriendly.
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