We all love Anshul. Apart from being the editor-in-chief at Unite For Vitiligo, he is a thinker, philosopher, and an educator. However, he has a poor habit of conducting trivia games at the office, now and then. Though he never knew it (he’ll come to know now), we hated those boring games too much. So, we thought to make him do something he hates – talking about himself. After various attempts, he agreed to sit down with us and shared his story. FYI, Anshul Singh is the one who came up with the idea of Vitiligo Crusaders.
When vitiligo first came along, it was scary not knowing what it was. However, having a tiny white patch on his thumb was meaningless. “I didn’t understand what it truly meant and how much it would later come to affect my body and psychological wellbeing,” Anshul recalls.
When Anshul got his first facial white patch (on upper lip) in 2015, it knocked his confidence massively. There were times when he didn’t want to look at his previous photos. He stopped taking care of himself, thinking who cares how he looks now. Anshul goes on, “Once I had it on my face, my self-esteem was low, and I didn’t want to meet new as well as old friends assuming that they would be asking me annoying questions. And, I was not ready to answer the same questions repeatedly.”
Since Anshul kept his feelings to himself, his family couldn’t help him enough. “It was extremely confusing for my mother. One day, she would ask me to be worry-free, but the next day she would want to check my recovery progress. She was asking about the effectiveness of the treatment every other day, which showed her restlessness and it didn’t help me at all,” Anshul adds.
Anshul was once put on a medication that included an after side effect of essential tremors. At this lowest point, he realized that essential tremors were way serious than the harmless vitiligo. He stopped the treatment and worked through his rather small concerns. He began to notice a reduced level of distress and discomfort. Anshul further decided to use vitiligo as his strength (not a weakness) and raise awareness about a rather socially stigmatized skin disorder. “I was already a successful content marketing professional when I had an outbreak of vitiligo. Once I had enough money to fund a venture independently, I leveraged my storytelling gifts to make ‘Unite for Vitiligo’ a reality,” he explains.
Going through the highs and the lows of vitiligo made Anshul learn a great deal about life; “Dealing with vitiligo had been painful initially, but it’s also born some good in me. I’ve watched myself develop sensitivity and compassion for people. Understanding others’ limitations, listening carefully and understanding other’s perspectives have become my natural instincts. I appreciate what others do for me; I say ‘thank you’ a lot and aspire to make a difference like Winnie Harlow,” Anshul opens up.
Living with vitiligo hasn’t been as hard as Anshul thought. “I get a good few questions from friends and colleagues. And to my surprise, many people still think that it is contagious. In fact, many people have even asked me if it is life threatening or not. Even though many celebrities with vitiligo have publicly spoken about their experiences with the skin disorder, it is still known as that mysterious, ‘Michael Jackson disease,'” he shares his experiences.
Anshul has had a lot of messages coming in on Instagram. Though he doesn’t know which treatment works best for vitiligo, people often ask him for advice. “I feel blessed because they contact me and sad as well because I can’t offer them the right treatment. All I can tell them is, love who you are, you are beautiful and unique. Just look around you, there are so many like you.” the editor-in-chief smiles.
By talking openly about vitiligo, we all can educate people about a condition that too few know about. “Is answering all of those questions easy? Of course, not! But remember, for every person you educate about vitiligo, there is one less person who might stare at the next person with the same skin disorder,” Anshul signs off.