In 2002 I left home to start my freshman year at college. On Halloween, I came down with strep throat. I didn't want to spend the weekend cooped up in my dorm room, so I went out anyway.
A few days later, I woke up with dry spots all over the undersides of my forearms. They were pretty smallI thought it was dry skin or something strange I'd picked up in the communal showers. I put lotion on it and figured it would go away. But it didn't. The nurse practitioner at campus services told me I was probably allergic to somethingmy detergent, or maybe the water in the washing machines.
Soon it spread to my upper arms, chest, and back. I thought it was acne, but pimple medication made it much worse. Every morning I'd wake up, hoping it would have disappeared overnight. But it was always worse. I confided in my friends about how upset it was making me. They told me it didn't look that bad, but I knew they were just being nice.
I was misdiagnosed with a flesh-eating bacteria
When I went home for Thanksgiving, my parents panickedthat's how bad I looked. My mother took me straight to a doctor, who said I had a flesh-eating bacteria. She explained that I could have contracted it when I drank alcohol while sick with strep. She mentioned the word psoriasis in passing, but I was so fixated on the flesh-eating bacteria that I didn't second-guess her diagnosis. It did look like something was attacking my face.
I never used to wear a lot of makeup, and now I was having to set my alarm extra early so I could cover myself up before I left for class. I was constantly paranoid that my classmates were staring at me, so all of the stress from thaton top of my academic worries like final examswas taking its toll. And the more stressed I got, the worse my skin became.