Vitiligo: dealing with the changes
Oftentimes there are great ‘conversations’ that go on over on our Vitiligo Friends facebook page. Today, was an especially good one that I wanted to share with you.
Friend wrote: I have to ask how you all have coped with having vitiligo. I have had it for about 9 years now. It just keeps getting worse and worse… especially after the birth of my 2 children. I have tried treatment but it only seems to make it look worse. How do you go on living your life happily when all you feel like doing is cry when you look in the mirror!?
My reply: Hi, first of all I send you a big hug! i know it’s hard to see past your vitiligo, but you are so beautiful. I looked on your facebook page to get a better look at your sweet family and to see your vitiligo; you know what I saw? A very beautiful young woman with two gorgeous little babies and a handsome husband. The vitiligo meant nothing compared to all that surrounded you.
Vitiligo does change how we are used to seeing ourselves, so it’s hard for us to see past that…you have to, though, to find the happiness you felt before the vitiligo began. Love yourself (vitiligo and all) as much as you love your family; that will dry your tears. Take it day by day. Retrain your brain to see your perfect smile, your beautiful hair, and your sparkling eyes.
Her response: I guess it must seem vain to be so concerned about the way I look. But it is so hard to see past what now is and what used to be.
My reply: My first memory of living with vitiligo was the initial visit to my dermatologist about what I thought was a nail fungus from getting my nails done at a salon. He told me that the tiny white spots on my cuticles was vitiligo; a new word to me. His following explanation about vitiligo fell on deaf ears…I was stunned, but not worried because I didn’t know the full ramifications of vitiligo. He then showed me a small glass jar filled with a liquid that looked brown like iodine, “you can use this to stain your skin to blend in the white areas”, he said. My reply still makes me laugh…”no, I won’t need that, I’m not THAT vain”
In the end it’s not about vanity, which implies excessive pride in one’s appearance. We are dealing with a loss of self; the sense of self that we have developed over our lifetime. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of something that is very important to us, as human beings we have to naturally go through stages to evolve and deal with the loss. Be patient and kind to yourself…and most of all don’t fight the change or it will become your enemy. No one needs to live with that kind of stress or self-hatred. There is just too much value in each of us that is not defined by vitiligo.