If I had a dollar for every time I thought I couldn’t live with vitiligo for one more minute, I would have more money than I knew what to do with.
“I’m not strong enough for this. How could anyone be strong enough for this?” It’s a thought I want to yell sometimes when I just feel like I’ve lost all hope.
Living with vitiligo is hard. It takes your world and turns it upside down, complicating a part of your life you had likely always taken for granted. You watch your body change before your eyes, feel the stares of strangers crawl across your skin every time you step outside. And then one day you glance in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person staring back. It hurts in a way you couldn’t have imagined.
So how do you know if you’re strong enough? What’s the secret to getting through a life with vitiligo?
Unfortunately, there’s no class that teaches you how to deal with a skin disease without a cure. There’s no manual that shows you the steps to not caring when people gawk unforgivingly in your direction. There’s no guide that will tell you how to get through the dark moment when you would give anything to make the spots go away. There is no advice column that can actually teach you to be confident in the skin you’re in.
But there is one thing you can hold on to: You already are living with vitiligo and because of that, you know that you can and you know that you will.
It’s the not the answer you want, I know. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t change your life. It won’t even necessarily make it easier. But it’s the truth. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. It’s that simple.
You will get used to the new spot. You will find a way to deal with stares. You will learn to smile at your reflection. You will build up the courage to wear clothes that show your spots. You will find a way to love your life despite a condition you can’t control.
You will be strong enough to live with vitiligo, because you already are.
Erika Page is a writer and blogger with universal vitiligo. Based just south of Washington, D.C., Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.