Here's how severe psoriasis helped her finally find self-love.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes dry, itchy patches on the skin, and though it’s common, some cases are much more severe than others. Influencer Aimee Godden has one of those severe cases, but instead of trying to hide her skin from the world, she embraces it as part of who she is.

When red splotches first started to appear on Godden’s face earlier this year, her doctor told her it was probably chicken pox. But then her so-called pox didn’t go away, and she knew something more was going on. In February, she was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis, a less prevalent type that can flare up just a few times—or last for life.

Psoriasis can’t be cured, but those affected can often ease symptoms by working with a doctor to find an effective treatment, such as topical cream or light therapy. The condition manifests differently for everyone, and it can take time to find a treatment that works for you.

To say adjusting to her new appearance was difficult would be a massive understatement. “I thought I was hideous,” Godden tells Health. People would laugh at her when she was out in public, she says, so she remained cooped up inside as much as possible. “I stayed at my mum’s for weeks crying myself to sleep and waking up in the mornings with pure dread of the day ahead.”

Eventually, something shifted inside of her, and she decided to stop hiding by posting a photo to Instagram. The first upload was, well, defeating. Godden became a target of online bullying, and some of the comments were terrifying. “I received death threats,” she says.

But the more she embraced her appearance, the more others started to accept it. As she continued posting photos to Instagram, Godden began receiving loving and supportive messages from others who also deal with skin conditions or are on self-confidence journeys of their own.

Soon, she had built a community of followers, and they helped her heal just as much as her willingness to share her story helped them. To anyone who lives with psoriasis, Godden says, “We already suffer in pain and discomfort every day, so let’s not hide ourselves and suffer inside too.”

Now she shares everything from treatments that work for her to days when she has flare ups, like in the photo above. “Wow can people stare anymore today?!” she wrote.

She went on to explain that she understands people might look at her out of curiosity, but there’s a right way to go about it. “If you stare because you’re intrigued then be kind enough to smile back when I smile at you, please do not look away in embarrassment.”

From the very beginning when she didn't have the courage to leave her house to now, when she refuses to stay hidden, Godden has realized that self confidence can often come from the place we least expect it to. “I struggled for years with self-love when I looked ‘normal,’” she says. “It was psoriasis that really taught me self-love.”

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