Sandra Reese, from New York shared her story with us.
I discovered that I had Vitiligo in Elementary School. When I was younger I fell in my driveway and cut my elbows and knees. When the cuts healed, and the skin grew back, it had no pigment.
As I grew older the non-pigment patches continued to spread and my mother decided to take me to a dermatologist. I went to more than one doctor and eventually was diagnosed with Vitiligo. I was prescribed steroid creams and also did UV light therapy. Neither worked for me and my Vitiligo spread all over my body. On my arms it looked like I have freckles but it is simply the way my Vitiligo has consumed my arms. It is most noticeable on my legs, back and stomach.
My Vitiligo constantly changed as I was going through puberty and still continues to change today but at a slower pace. The hardest thing that comes along with having Vitiligo is the feeling that you don’t fit in. Anywhere. That you are “weird” or “ugly”. Or you “belong in a hospital.” Yes, people thought I should be hospitalized simply because some of my skin lost pigment. I, along with many others suffering with Vitiligo, experienced bullying. Some so bad, that I still think about from time to time. When someone is calling you hurtful names or staring at you, its difficult not to break down and burst into tears right then and there.
As I grew older and the Vitiligo spread all throughout my body, it became very noticeable. This was especially true during the summer months when I would wear things such as bathing suits or shorts. Throughout my life before college, I have never met someone else with Vitiligo. As I grew older, I realized that I couldn’t be the only person with Vitiligo. Luckily, with the help of social media and one simple click, my life changed. I found over a million results of people that felt the same way I did. It’s so easy to connect with the Vitiligo community. By seeing other people and hearing their stories I finally felt what I have longed for my entire life. I belonged. Instantly I was inspired. Instead of hiding who I was I decided to embrace it.
With the help of the Vitiligo Community, a supportive family and an accepting boyfriend, I made the choice to reinvent myself. I began to think: What is “beauty” anyway? What is this unattainable idea of “perfection” and who gets to say what is and isn’t? There is so much more to myself and others than just outer surface skin. My skin doesn’t portray my personality. My brain and heart are responsible for that. Who says you’re not perfect? You just have to believe it and love yourself. I have learned that people who truly love and care about you don’t see you as an outcast with “weird skin”. They see you as beautiful. Beauty is more than looks, it’s the mark you put on the world. The way you care for and love others is beauty. The positive and encouraging way you think. Everyone has a purpose in this world. Some are big some are small but all are equally as important. So one day I stopped crying. I wiped my tears. I looked in the mirror and chose to embrace my beauty inside and out. I became strong and proud. I am more open with my vitiligo and am not afraid to share my story. No one is ever alone in this world.
There is always someone out there that understands and feels how you do. Everyone is unique and sometimes all people need is a reminder of that.
Share your story with us here – www.olorisupergal.com/vitiligoday to inspire other people with Vitiligo.