Let me introduce myself. My name is Helen. I am from Ireland; I live in Dublin, and am married with a 14 year old daughter. I have suffered from psoriasis for over 16 yrs.
When I was first diagnosed, being both stubborn and optimistic, I ignored everything I heard and decided that there must be a cure and that I would find it. To this end, I started my search, not just confining myself to conventional medicine, but also exploring the path of alternative medicine.
Over the years, I applied every known steroid cream to my skin. I spent a small fortune on lotions and potions in the local health stores. I travelled to the International Psoriasis Clinic in the Dead Sea … where I spent 10 days in a state of complete misery and returned just as flaky as when I had left. I did UVB phototherapy treatment, not just once but four times. My remission lasted one week each time, but at least it brought me back to base level.
I took so many supplements that at one stage, had anyone shaken me, there was a high probability that I would have rattled! I even flew to Paris to meet a doctor who claimed to have the answer. His answer was diet. And believe me when I say that I embarked upon many; a dairy-free diet, a gluten-free diet, a salt-free diet, a processed-free diet and an organic only diet. But still the psoriasis remained. And with it, the cycles of hope and disappointment! Hope that the next ‘cure’ would work. Disappointment when yet again the cure failed.
Finally, after many years, I changed dermatologist, learned more about my options and after some trial and error on various medications, I finally have my psoriasis under control.
This change of dermatologist and subsequent use of medication was prompted by a series of events which started 3 years ago. I was invited to a black tie gala event – the sort of event that in my previous life would have filled me with glee. An opportunity to really glam it up for a night! When you have psoriasis however, it’s a different story. Whilst trying to conceal my flaking, inflamed, angry and unsightly skin, it was obvious that the backless, strapless creations of other ladies were not going to work for me. So I decided to go online to find advice on what to wear. But there was nothing. Just the suggestion that people with psoriasis should wear ‘loose cotton baggy clothing’ … which clearly was of no help at all! But even more disturbing was the fact that as I continued my search for information, all I found was site after site of relentless misery and depression. Endless pictures of ugly flaking skin. The recurring reminder that ‘psoriasis cannot be cured’. No hope. No optimism. And then I read stories of patients, women specifically, who had been so diminished by their disease, who were so embarrassed by how they looked and so humiliated by the nasty comments of others, that they no longer left their houses. They stayed inside, away from the gaze of others. And as bizarre as it may sound, although I had suffered from psoriasis for almost 14 years at that stage, I had never realised the extent of the depression and the negative mental impact it had on so many patients. And this had a profound effect on me.
I felt compelled to do something. Because although I had suffered from psoriasis (and on some occasions quite badly) for most of my adult life, at no point had it defined me. It had never prevented me from having an active social life. And it certainly had never had such a negative mental impact or caused such anguish, that it had caused me to think about taking my own life. So it seemed obvious to me that as I have always loved fashion, and as I genuinely do believe that what you wear can affect how you feel, that a blog which deals with how to dress around psoriasis was the route I should take. From my little corner of the internet, I would shed a little hope, some optimism and even dare I say it, a bit of humour onto what is essentially a fairly sad subject!
And so The Flaky Fashionista was born! Three years later, ‘she’ is still going strong! So for the next few months on this site, I am going to share some pearls of wisdom, from how to dress for your summer holidays through to what to wear to a job interview and even the question that started it all - what to wear for a formal event. I hope you will join me.
UK/IE 2013b/00057. Date of preparation: May 2015