Now in her 30s and a working parent, Lianne has lived through moments like these her entire life, each one reopening old emotional wounds. But rather than succumb to embarrassment or shame, she’s learned valuable lessons from her journey, which she shares on social media.
Whether confronted with lifestyle or environmental factors that can cause her psoriasis to flare, she has learned to respect and harness her journey. She understands how it has strengthened her resolve to become informed and empowered to seek better care for her autoimmune disease.
As a result of how people have treated her from childhood to parenthood — the stares, judging and invasive questions — she has learned to extract power from these interactions, which now fuels her confidence and resilience to help her navigate life no matter what comes her way.
“Today I have the confidence to talk to people about my psoriasis,” she says. “It’s taken me a long time and many painful moments to learn how to do that, so I’m hopeful that other people can learn from my experiences across so many different stages of life.”
Lianne doesn’t remember life before psoriasis. She was diagnosed at the age of five, so she has no memories of life without the disease.
For her entire life, she has lived with a disease that affects more than 125 million people around the world.1 The disease can cause inflammation throughout the body, resulting in raised plaques or “scaly” skin.2 However, the effects of psoriasis can extend further, and the inflammation can put patients at greater risk for developing serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, Crohn’s disease, or psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis.1
Despite the early age of her diagnosis, what Lianne does remember are the stares and probing questions from her teenage years into adulthood. Her experience at the swimming pool was just one of the reactions that would happen again and again: The stare across the grocery store, the parent who pulled their child closer when she walked nearby, the people who seemed genuinely concerned but didn’t know how to ask if she was okay.
For Lianne and many patients, psoriasis manifests in the fingernails and can be hard to hide. When she became a parent herself, she caught people staring at her nails as she fed her child a bottle in public.
“When you’re a mother, you have so many things to worry about, and having people stare at you in public was a really hard thing to handle,” she says. “But I learned that you can either let it make you crumble, or you can try to connect with the people who are staring at you.”