The team at VITILIGLOW® are huge advocates of maintaining positive mental health and with Mental Health Awareness Week taking place this week, I wanted to talk about the mental health implications for people with vitiligo and other skin conditions and visible differences. It’s no secret that I have struggled with having vitiligo since I developed my first patches more than 25 years ago.
Personally, I cover up every day and make sure that my depigmented patches are fully camouflaged using VITILIGLOW® before I leave the house. But others with vitiligo are far more confident and embrace their patches. Our good friend and supporter Joti Gata-Aura from Positively Diverse has spent the 20 years since her patches first appeared learning to love her skin. She is now super comfortable showing her patches to the world. There is no right or wrong answer here – your journey with vitiligo is unique and you must be comfortable with yourself whether you choose to cover your patches like me or are happy not to cover up, like Joti and my two sons, who also have vitiligo.
A few months ago, Joti and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Liz Ritchie, a body image therapist and psychotherapist from the mental healthcare charity where I work full time. Liz supported Little Mix star Jesy Nelson in her award-winning BBC documentary, Odd One Out. Liz wanted to talk to both Joti and I to see how we started off over 20 years ago at the point where we both tried to conceal our vitiligo, yet Joti has gone through the process of fully embracing her patches in recent years, but I still cannot bear any minute where I’m not fully camouflaged.
Here are our videos discussing our struggles, thoughts and hopes about mental health, self-acceptance and living with vitiligo.
We talked a lot about self-acceptance and how it doesn’t matter whether you cover your patches or choose not to (or do it sometimes, depending on how you feel). The important thing is that you accept this ‘thing’ that you are given and live your best life. Liz talked to us about the routines I undertake rigidly every day and the ways that Joti took small steps to get out of her comfort zone to fully reveal her vitiligo.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’. These five things are: connect, take notice, give, be active and keep learning. Given the pandemic situation that we have been living in and dealing with over the past year, taking some time out to focus on ourselves and embrace who we truly are is the most valuable gift we can give to ourselves in our life.
Founder of VITILIGLOW®