We had been flirting for weeks. We hung out during recess and chose each other as partners during classroom activities. I even played my first game of footsie with him. But it was not to be. For him, something stood in the way.
“I would be your boyfriend if you didn’t have psoriasis,” my first-grade crush said to me. I still remember those words more than 30 years later. I was crushed. It felt so unfair.
I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of four. Growing up, it was hard to make friends. Kids were scared to play with me on the playground. I either sat to the side alone or with other kids who had been unfairly cast aside.
I was bullied by a few kids for something that I had no control over. Going to school became torture. By the time I was in second grade, I had missed so many days of school that I was forced to repeat the grade. This did not help my confidence.
I don’t want it to seem like I had no friends or boyfriends. It is just that finding the right ones took more sorting out. In a sense, I’m glad I had psoriasis to weed out the ones that would have cared about something so superficial. I realized later that the phrase, “those who mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind,” was meant for this sort of thing.
I had a go-to line, “I have psoriasis. It’s a non-communicable disease, so you can’t catch it.” Why would a little kid use the word non-communicable? Looking back, I was obviously using terminology my doctor or parent gave me.
Being a teenage girl is hard enough without psoriasis. Dating was slow for me. I didn’t collect boyfriends as fast as my friends did in middle school. Eventually, I started dating a guy in my junior year of high school. I have dated some great guys throughout the years and have wonderful friends who don’t even factor psoriasis into the equation.