Sharing psoriasis images on Instagram

Georgia caught my attention because she lives her psoriasis out loud. At 21 she is much braver than I was at that age. I would show small sections of my psoriasis in public but never whole body sections, and certainly not record my flares in photographs for anyone to see.

Georgias account shows her body going through a flare, and some of the images she shares show her psing in attractive poses that show her self appreciation, not the medical style images we are used to on the internet where we see poses that show off the skin, and not the personality of the person who fills it.

Georgia started her account when she had a major flare following her 21st brthday. Initially she started it becasue she needed to channel her energy into something. Like a lot of us, she finds it easier to help other than she does helping herself. So she started to post what she needed. It was “a split moment decision” she says.

Positive feedback

Posting her images on instagram, Georgia found that there was what she needed. A community. People who were posting encouraging messages, that showed her she was not alone.

I have had similar experiences on Instagram, my favourite hashtag for finding community has been #GETYOURSKINOUT where people share photographs of themselves in shorts and T-shirts though there are many others. #psoriasiscommunity and #psoriasiswarrior and some others.

my goal came after I started the channel. I want to uplift, inspire and empower and try to keep that mantra’

This is what we need as a community. To inspire each other and to lift each other up when we need it- and even when we don’t! Belonging is a powerful thing, and for both Georgia and myself, I have found it amongst the community on Instagram.

If you’re looking for more of this check out our resources page for my social media guide for psoriasis (which will be available free from April 2019). Join my mailing list for first notice 🙂

Diagnosed at 15

Georgia was diagnosed at 15, but had thought she had eczema before then. She only had it in her ear and wondered why her dermatologist was talking so extensively about psoriasis at her appointment. As we all know… it rarely stays in one place. This is what happened next:

“I think at the time was a bit naive, and I was a bit like- why are you telling me all of this? It’s only a tiny bit on my face. And then I got my first big flare when I was in my first year of college. That was all over my face and down my arms and my legs. So I think then I realised. Okay, I get it now. Like, this is how it progresses.”

I also had psoriasis as a teenager, and so i was curious what Georgia found were her biggest challenges having a flare at 16. Like most of us when were growing up, Georigia was on a jourey of self discovery- and unsurprisinly psoriasis didnt help with that.

“Well, in school, I was pretty insecure. That’s down to having an issue with bullies from primary through secondary. And I think when I got to college, it was the first kind of time where I was kind of working out who I was. And I was pretty happy with where I was at.

And then I felt like I’ve been slapped in the face because now I have what looks like a rash all over my face. And everybody you can see them side eye-ing.

That was a big challenge.”

Strategies to use in school/ college

I remember as a teenager being short on strategies when I was at school. The downside of being a teenager before the internet. I asked Georgia if she had any strategies that she found useful. Good news is, she said yes.

“I think once I started being a bit open about it, I kind of got used to it. And I found that once I’d been open with a couple of people, I didn’t really notice anybody else staring. I think that was because its a bit tit for tat in school. Everybody chatters don’t they. So I think by the time I told two people everybody knew anyway.”

There is also the fact that gossip gets boring very quickly, as life moves on, people stop talking about it. It becomes boring.

” I think there was a bit of stigma. “Oh my god there’s something on Georgia’s face and on her skin …. it will be contagious!” Then by the time people realize actually this condition isn’t at all contagious, that it’s just me and it’s just my skin growing quickly- they were a bit more chilled about it. They just lost their interest basically.

No make-up

Georgia was told she had to stop wearing make-up.

I was a Science teacher for 8 years so I know how much some teenagers rely on make-up to bolster their self-confidence. I also know how hard it is to get them to take it off.

Georgia was told she needed to stop wearing make-up because her skin was seeping. That wearing make-up increased her chances of getting an infection in her skin.

So how did she cope? Well she followed the instructions she was given, and then called in sick…a lot. It was a pep talk from her mum that made her realise that this was not a good solution.

“I realised the more you look after your skin and focus on looking after it and look after yourself, the quicker is going to go. And that was what I learned very quickly was that if you’re kind to your body. It’s kind to you. It sounds cliche but its true.”

Focus on what you love about yourself

Taking care of her body looked like applying her prescribed topicals as the doctor recommended. But also involves self-care and self-love. I love this strategy that Georgia shares and I think everyone should try it.

Step 1: when you wake up, identify three things you like about yourself.

Step 2: focus on enhancing them

An example would be if you love your eyes. Add mascara, make your eyes a focal point. Love your hair? Style it so it looks great- when you start getting complements on yur hair then it can really bolster your confidence.

“So I was really like, straighten my hair every day. And making sure that I felt good in that way. And then I actually found that people realized I was making an effort with my hair or with what I was wearing. And they were really like, Oh, yeah, looks really nice. And people stopped (or I didn’t notice them anymore) passing comment on whether my skin’s looking sore, you know, things like that. It was more, ‘this looks really nice’. You look good today. And that was the best way to tackle I think.”

How do you tell your friends you have psoriasis?

“So when I was first diagnosed, didn’t really tell anybody. But that was because I could hide it so easily.

I think if it had been all over my face, I maybe would have said just to get it out the way becasue I’m quite a transparent person in terms of if something’s visible. I’m just like, Yeah, get it out the way just do it now. And then I don’t have to.

I started really opening up in college. And I remember one of my friends came over with me, because I’d been off for quite a bit of time, mainly because I was depressed. I didn’t want to get out of bed. So I just stopped like, I gave up on myself, basically, which is really bad. Don’t do that.

I went into a drama lesson, and my friend asks me- Are you okay? And I was like, are you not gonna ask about what’s on my face? And she was like, No, I’m asking if you’re okay. And I think that was the first time I stopped and I was like, people don’t actually care. Like, they’re not horrified. They’re not bothered. They just want to know I’m okay.

So I opened up to her. And I was like- it’s psoriasis. Oh, my goodness…..it’s going to flare all the time. I’m always going to have this all over my face. It’s going to look awful. And then I went to go and see a dermatologist again, who referred me to phototherapy. Lo and behold, it was gone within about six weeks.

The same friend was like, “so I thought it was going to be there forever”. She was really like- you know, you got yourself into this massive rut, because that’s one thing people forget as well, your flaress aren’t permanent. But they might last a suitable amount of time. But it doesn’t mean they’re going to be there forever. You know, is it ever changing sort of thing

Just because it’s on your face today, doesn’t mean it’s going to be on your face next week.

Following your dreams

As a teenager with psoriasis wrote off all potential careers that involved me being the center of attention. Acting and modelling were a definitie no go. I think its admirable that Georgia continures towork towards her dreams of being an actress.

Georgia has acted since she was 5, and so when psoriasis entered her life at 15 she had already made the commitment to her vocation. She knew what she loved.

I had not thought about the power of acting as a tool to cope with chronic illness, but instead of shying away from the limelight, actually, Georgia used it to help her cope.

” through everything that I found difficult in life, I’ve really found that being on stage, being somebody else for a period of time, helps. So actually, when I was really, really struggling with depression, and anxiety, drama was actually the biggest escape for me, because it meant I got to completely shelve everything that was going on in my head for a bit and go and be somebody else.”

” if anybody out there does want to act or sing or model or anything like that, you have to remember that in that industry you’re going to get told no 100 times more than you’re going to get told yes. And that has no relevance whatsoever on whether or not you have psoriasis.”

Chatting about Cara Delevingnes move into acting fro modelling Georgia shares that of course, in modelling, you will get a lot more people saying no when you are in a flare. However-

“Cara Delevingne, she’s super successful. She has psoriasis. So does Kim Kardashian. You know, some of the people that we consider to be the biggest models in the world have psoriasis. So, you know, doesn’t define us. It doesn’t limit and I think that’s important to remember.”

Dating with psoriasis as teenager

Georgia has recently gotten engaged to her boyfriend who she has known since she was 11. They started dating at 15, around the time the psoriasis made its first official appearance.

Georgia describes their relationship as a journey together because her fiancee has supported her through from the very start.

I think this is important to remember. When you have found the right person, they are not deterred by your psoriasis- and many of the associated challenges we face. Georgia openly admits to struggling with depression and anxiety as part of her condition.

Her fiancé could have left at any time. He didnt. In fact, he proposed to seal the deal becasue he wanted to marry her.

With psoriasis.

I think Georgia summarises why beautifully at the end of our conversation:

” remember that your skin doesn’t define you, and that you are more than your psoriasis. You’re more than your skin.

Your real beauty and your strength and everything comes from within. It comes through in your actions and the words you speak and the things you choose to do.

And that’s no reflection of your skin at all.

I think when you’re looking for a partner, ultimately, we’re not looking for what they look like, we’re looking for the person that’s compatible for us. So we’re looking for the support and the compassion, and people who are funny.

When you date and you’re not solely looking at looks, I think when you’re in flare, you forget that. And you can get yourself in a bit of a rut of thinking there’s nothing else to you than your psoriasis but they’re really, really is.”

er…..YES georgia…yes-yes-yes. And you? do you agree? I sincerely hope so.

About Georgia (@meadowsonmyskin)

A 21 year old aspiring actress with a touch of Psoriasis! Striving to uplift, empower and inspire people all around the world and prove that it’s okay to be different!

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