Having struggled with acne in my youth, I remember what it was like to be bullied and teased because of my skin condition. Now, as a dermatologist, I always enjoying hearing how my journey has helped inspired and empower others.
I invite you to join me to wipe out bullying by sharing your story with members of our community. Your story can help encourage others who might be going through a tough time. I hope that with each story that is shared, that we can get one step closer to wiping out bullying based on people’s outward appearance.
Share your story with the Wipe Out Bullying community by emailing your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it on this page. You can choose to keep your story anonymous.
My name is Kirby and I have psoriasis, an autoimmune and non-contagious skin disease that causes itchy, irritable rashes that appear on the skin. When I was first diagnosed back in 2010, I was in middle school where kids are the cruelest. To me, I considered myself bullied in various ways. First of all, my classmates used to stare and gossip about me behind my back. Everyone looked at me like I had the plague. Then, one boy told me to start wearing pants instead of the uniform skirt because he didn’t want to see “those gross things on [my] skin”. All of these occurrences caused me to be a little anti-social. I didn’t want to hang out with any of my friends, I covered up my skin even if it was over 90 degrees, and I cried a lot. I refused to go out in public because I was afraid people everywhere would ridicule me about my skin. To me, everyone was a bully.
In June 2010, after my diagnosis, I was referred to Dr. Michael Lin. Dr. Lin and Lindy Elbert, NP, closely examined my rashes and discussed treatment options with my parents. We started my phototherapy treatment and topical steroids about a couple of weeks after my first visit and for the first time in a long time, my skin started clearing up. We had to drive from Santa Clarita to Sherman Oaks three times a week for my treatments. At the same time, I suffered from mild depression and my parents referred me to a therapist. Between my phototherapy treatments and my therapy sessions, things started going back to normal.
My family is now very much involved with the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). Team Kirbinators participated in our first Walk to Cure Psoriasis in Los Angeles in 2011. In 2011, I was asked to be the Walk’s Youth Ambassador, which I graciously accepted. This year will be my third year as an ambassador.
The rashes stopped responding to phototherapy and the topical medications. In April 2012, my parents and I discussed biologic drugs with Dr. Lin and Lindy. I started with the biologics in July 2012 and what a miracle. We started noticing improvements after the first treatment. At about the 5th dose, I started giving myself the injections. I am now more than 99% clear. Dr. Lin and Lindy and the whole staff are very happy with my progress.
Now, I’ve learned to be confident about my skin and who I am. I joined the Show Choir at my high school and I perform with my group wearing different costumes not worrying if my skin was showing. I just have to remember who I am and forget what people say. If I hear someone make a rude comment, I turn around with a big smile and tell them not to judge me just because they see something wrong with my skin. I also learned not to be a bully to others since I know what it’s like to be treated like an outsider.
Join Team Kirbinators at this year’s Walk to Cure Psoriasis on April 26, 2014 at the Santa Monica Pier. For more information, go to: facebook.com/WalkToCurePsoriasisLA