The Secret to Being “Strong Enough” to Live with Vitiligo
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 the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.
Hey! I’m so much inspired by this page on both instagram and this blog! It gives me so much peace and motivation to get through the hurdles of living with vitiligo everyday! Thank you so much by creating a positive image of vitiligo in me which i and my family have been trying to do it for the past 6 years! Im so grateful!
Khairunisa, thank you so much for the kind words! Messages like this make the work worth doing!
I’ve had vitiligo since i was a teen. The areas affected were only my hips so no one ever knew. It bothered me but I never really talked about it. I never had a problem making friends or dating.
20 years + later i noticed the patches spreading rapidly. AT the same time i was pregnant, we were dealing with financial problems and a host of new marriage issues. After my second child, the vitiligo went hay wire and the patches cover 35% of my body. Sometimes i cried when the babies slept.
My children are 6 & 7 now. They make me strong and have taught me unconditional love. Once they were aware (around 3 years old) they asked me about the “white circles” and I explained that my immune system worked differently then other people. They weren’t bothered by it at all. I’ve vowed to be a pillar of strength for my kids and husband (who is my rock and most amazing man I have ever met). I want my children to grow up confidant and accepting of themselves which forces me to be accepting of myself. They are learning that sometimes situations will arise that are out of our control and dealing with them in a healthy manner is essential to happiness. They are also learning that our bodies are all so complex and beautiful no matter what.
Acceptance is not a magic pill. It takes growth and maturity to understand that everyone is going through something. If vitiligo is your biggest challenge to the path of self love, then consider yourself lucky because you are alive to experience.
Erika, I am eternally grateful for people like you who find strength from vitiligo moreover to find opportunities to help others. I hope you continue your journey in including us.
Wishing you much love and happiness!
Tanweer, thanks for the beautiful story and note! I love how you’ve found strength through your children. Sometimes life asks us to be role models before we’re actually ready – but we become ready in the process. I like talking about Living Dappled as a place where girls can “own their spots” because its not what you’re given but what you do with it – just like you’ve been able to be an example for your children. Stay in touch!