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Childhood Taunting Has Made Me a Better Person
from Sue C.

Hi Ed. I'm a 51 year old lady who just found your web site and I must say I've enjoyed reading other people's experiences. I've had P since age 9, and right now over 85 percent of my body is covered. I've been so depressed over this problem that I've had to take anti-depressants. Anyway to make a long story short, I just wish it would disappear.

I'm trying desperately to maintain my sense of humor. Over July 4th, at the beach, one nicely dressed gentleman approached our group and asked us about sea lice. I jumped up and pointed to my arm and said look what happened to me. The kids who were with him started jumping up and down shouting, "Daddy! Daddy!" Oh well, so much for a SICK sense of humor.

Yesterday at the pool a little African American girl came up to me and said, "Gee lady you sure have a funny tan." I said, "Yea, I have that Michael Jackson disease, one day I'm white and the next day I'm black." She replied, "You sure do have a great sense of humor."

I'm not responding to any medication right now. The only thing that helps is soaking in the tub.

[Later]

Preacher says to my next door neighbor's mom (referring to me), "You let your child play with that?" Needless to say, I'm not too hot on organized religion.

In fifth grade a lifeguard approaches me and says, "Little girl, get out of the pool, you're polluting the water."

The list goes on, but guess what? I went back and became a lifeguard and managed that same swimming pool. I'm a Psychology teacher now, and I can honestly tell you that some of the stuff I endured as a kid has made me a better teacher, friend, counselor to my students. If I see a kid in pain, I try to alleviate it. Sincerely, Sue C.

*****

Ed's Response: It was strange reading about your experience at the Beach, Sue. Years ago I wrote a little piece suggesting that flakers register with their local Coast Guard stations. In the event beaches needed to be cleared in a hurry, one or two flakers popping up out of the surf, screaming their lungs off, could effectively supplement the Coast Guard's entreaties for civilians to get lost.

I'm sorry you are not responding to any medications right now. You didn't say, but I imagine you've tried a number of medications in 42 years! Does the derm believe you have just become immune to the effects of the medicines?

Going back to be the lifeguard at the swimming pool from which you were ousted is a delightful story of comeuppance, the kind of thing we dream about. Would you say—since you are a psychology teacher now—that one of your coping methods has been "implosion therapy?" If I remember my Psych 101, the example of implosion therapy was throwing the person who fears snakes into a pit of snakes. It sounds as though you have not let your P stop you from doing the kinds of things other flakers shy away from; e.g., the beach, lifeguarding.

Though you mentioned you have taken antidepressants, you did not say you were taking them now, so I presume you are not. There have been a number of email exchanges here about P and depression (clinical and otherwise). They are in the Archives under "Depression."

Thanks for writing, Sue, and do keep us apprized. -Ed

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