(March, 1999)

T-shirts for Coping
from Roger D.

I've been blessed with P for about 10 years but refuse to give up the things I like to do. One way I came up with to help me turn the tables on the unsympathetic is to poke a little fun at both them and myself. I designed several T-shirts to wear when the occasion permits. All have a slogan on the front:

Psoriasis, just ugly, not catching.

On the back of one it states,

It's psoriasis.
No; you can't catch it.
Yes, it itches sometimes.
I've had it for years.
No, there isn't a cure.
It only hurts when people stare too hard.

Another says on the back,

It's psoriasis....
and you can't have any
'cause I've got my share, and yours, too!

A third says,

Nothing's wrong here;
it must just be big red spots in front of your eyes.

And finally,

If you don't have big, red blotches all over your body,
you're missing something—psoriasis.

The shirts have been a hit everywhere I've worn them, and they've given me the chance to explain the condition to many people who had never seen it before.

Don't get me wrong; it doesn't make it easy, just a little less painful. -Roger D.

*****

Ed's Response: Roger, I love these! You are one of those admirable Flakers who cope through "disarming forthrightness." One of the things I've learned as an "out-of-the-closet flaker" over the past several years is, the deepest emotional reactions to one's being "overt" or "covert" about their psoriasis seems to come from other psoriatics. For a long time, shortly after I manifested my P, when I would come across people in public with unnecessarily exposed skin problems, I would recoil from them. There I was, trying hard to hide my problem, and there was this other person, apparently unconcerned about the whole world gawking! Later, I came to see I had been projecting my own sense of shame, a piece of totally senseless ego-baggage so many flakers have a hard time abandoning. You obviously know, and I came to know after a few painful years, that psoriasis need not be an interpersonal problem. In fact, it's a waste of time to allow it to be an interpersonal problem.

So, if I every run into someone sporting one of your T-shirts, you can bet I'm going to extract a handshake and return a smile. And, if it's you, you'll know it's me, because I'll have the "Flake HQ" logo on my windbreaker! (You're a better publicist than I am, Roger. You're educating people about our disease whereas I prefer to baffle them. Under the windbreaker, my T-shirt is apt to say something like.

I survived Chernobyl!

—just to get them wondering.) -Ed

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