1%

Worldwide, 1% of people have Vitiligo and I recently have found out that I am one of them. Skin is strange, it comes in different colors and textures, some people like to decorate it with tattoos and piercings and some people like to darken it with spray tans, tanning beds, or that big ball of fire in the sky.  Parts of my skin, however, have something called Vitiligo. Some of you might know what that is while others might not. Before learning that I had Vitiligo the only thing that I really knew about it was that Michael Jackson had it and that was really it.

First off, I feel like I should tell you all why I wanted to make this post. You see, I have only written about my sobriety and alcoholism and how these specific things have affected my life. But really a lot of it comes down to self-love and being happy in your own body. Years ago I would have been ashamed to tell anyone I was an alcoholic or had some sort of disease but I figured since I’ve shared my other issues that I’ve dealt with, why not share my insight on a new one. Hopefully, by doing this I will bringing comfort to someone who may share this skin disease.

So what exactly is Vitiligo? I’m sure there are many technical ways of explaining it, but I’ll just say what I’ve said to people who’ve asked me this question before. It is a loss of pigmentation (color) in the skin because the cells that make your skin have color (melanocytes) have died.

What causes Vitiligo?

The cause is unknown, but some researchers think it’s caused by: stress, genetics & autoimmunity.

Is there treatment? Yes, but not much of it has resulted in long term results or curing it all together.

Is there a cure? Unfortunately, no. Is it contagious or painful? Nope.

So now you’re probably wondering if it isn’t painful and it isn’t contagious, then what is the big deal? My answer to you is that dealing with Vitiligo is just like someone dealing with insecurities about their weight or any other problems they may have, people can be very judgmental.

For me, this is obviously a new thing and the spots that I have are not too noticeable to the eye but this could change over time and is something that I have to prepare for. I care about the disease that I have, but in the end it cannot and will not define who I am. The more open I can be about it, just as I am with my alcoholism, I believe the better off I will be. We live in a world that is superficial, but deep inside you have to have a strength that supersedes all of that noise. Looks never last, but a personality, a core faith, and an amazing support system will make you feel unstoppable.

People have told me that I am courageous for speaking about my personal life and I don’t know if that is truly accurate but if so, my courage didn’t happen overnight. I used to act like I had my shit together, but I was pretty sensitive and had no balls whatsoever. It took time. I hope people can learn from my journey and be inspired by it. I would want someone to look at me and know right off the bat that their opinion of me will not change me because I control what can change in me, what can inspire me and what can make me a better person. That’s the type of courage and confidence everyone should have.