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Skin Thin

written by Stephen Lewis 24/04/2017

So a very long time ago I went swimming with my father and a lifeguard called my dad over to ask about the marks on my skin. When I was in school I got bullied by a group of girls about my 'dandruff'. A few months ago, whilst walking from my car my mate called out, “Dude are you wearing make up?” And a few weeks ago, a woman I worked with decided to say in front of a group of people, “What’s up with your face?”

On Monday someone asked me to be in a photograph and I said no because of my skin.

I've had psoriasis for most of my life; I think I have been quite lucky as it’s always been more of a winter thing for me with the summer sun helping to clear most of the spots up.Stephen_Lewis.jpg

I've always had marks on my face but used steroids on it every day, and although I'm not one for mirrors there were times when I thought I looked OK.

Over the last year my skin has gone from bad to worse, I'd say about 90% of my body is covered in psoriasis and my face is at its worst with psoriasis and other skin problems.

I have depression and anxiety and this definitely affects my psoriasis, again it's a vicious circle. I get up in the morning and I'm full of anxiety no matter what I'm doing. I'm back and fore the toilet all morning with IBS. I'm shaking and feel sick, but I do my best to have a shower and get dressed. This is usually when I check my face.

And straight away I'm back to the circle. Sometimes I can barely to look in the mirror. I sometimes feel physically sick by what I see. I'm frustrated and angry and it makes me feel depressed and embarrassed.

When I go to work or the shops I feel like people are looking at me.

When I go for a surf or a run my skin gets red and painful and I feel upset and alone.

"I'm there to try and make a difference and I'm not going to stop because of how I look."

Then I go out and talk for Time to Change Wales. I go out and stand up in front of a crowd of people and tell them about my life and the times that I've felt so low that I don't want to go on living.

I open my heart to people from all walks of life, who I've never met before.

I'm there to try and make a difference and I'm not going to stop because of how I look.

Yes I get anxious before my talks but after doing my 5th talk this week I've realised that actually I'm stronger than I've ever felt before and I'm not anxious about how my skin looks but that I will be able to do my best and hopefully help people. Time to Change Wales and the wonderful people involved make me feel stronger and I'm very grateful for that.

I'm always going to feel self-conscious about my skin because of reactions I've had through my life. I do understand that sometimes people say things without thinking and I don't really blame people for their reactions.

What I will say is, is that I know what my skin looks like. So you don't need to tell me that my face is red or my skin is dry.

I know it and I'm trying to get on with my life regardless.

That said, you can ask me about my skin, my anxiety and my depression because they are all a part of who I am and I'd be happy to talk about them.

If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email info@timetochangewales.org.uk

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Submitted by Sarah on Apr 27th, 2017

I can totally relate to Stephen. I have Ichthyosis. Having a visual difference is tough. I have experienced all the emotions that Stephen has and will for years to come but knowing there is support out there helps us to take a day at a time! :) x x great article Stephen x

Submitted by Emily king on Apr 27th, 2017

Good work, I'm a fellow suffer and know just how it can feel! Xx

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