Learning that you have vitiligo can be an overwhelming experience. Once the biopsy confirms that one little white spot is indeed vitiligo, it’s normal to feel afraid. It’s okay to wonder how you would cope with your ever-changing appearance and strange stares in the days to come. Naturally, these thoughts use up a lot of energy, which can make it even harder to absorb and understand all the medical information shared by your dermatologist.
However, with time and practice, you can find ways to get back to your work, hobbies, and social life. As you look for a way of coping that works for you, you may try some of the ideas we are offering below.
Accept and express your feelings.
Giving an outlet to your feelings always helps. Avoid judging yourself for your emotions. Your family may tell you that it is too early to express grief, fear, or anger and it is a sign of weakness. In reality, the opposite is often true.
It’s way harder to express feelings than hiding them. There are many ways to express your emotions, find the one that works for you. You may like to talk to your partner, trusted friend or keep a private journal. You can even express your feelings through music, painting, or drawing.
Reach out to others.
It’s very hard to handle the first encounter with vitiligo all alone. Talking to your loved ones may seem difficult as you don’t want to upset them. Don’t worry. They will want to support you and give you a hug. It will also help you and your loved ones to go to appointments or treatment sessions together.
Learn about your vitiligo.
Learn as much as you can about the chronic skin disorder, suitable diet and your treatment options. Learning about vitiligo and treatment options will give you a sense of control over what’s happening to your skin. Write down your questions and concerns beforehand. Whenever you meet your dermatologist after diagnosis, consider asking:
- Is my vitiligo segmental or non-segmental?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will the treatment benefit me?
- What can I expect during treatment?
- What are the side effects of the chosen line of treatment?
- How likely are my children to get vitiligo?
Ask the practitioner what changes you should anticipate as the chronic skin disorder progresses. Think about which approach works best for you – medication, surgery or stress management methods.
Shift your focus.
Staying positive can be hard, but trying to do so can help you cope. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Discuss your worries with your loved ones so that they can reassure you and give you emotional support needed at the moment.
This shift in focus may not happen overnight, but with consistent practice, you can change your frame of mind to enjoy what you have, rather than feeling helpless and different from the rest of the world.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Take care of yourself to deal with the emotional side of the vitiligo spread. Remember, grieving after diagnosis is taxing emotionally and spiritually. So, make sure to get enough sleep and eat healthy. This can improve your energy level.
Exercising regularly and participating in activities you enjoy should help. If you don’t have company, choose from 11 Solo Fun Activities for Vitiligo Fighters. Start an exercise program (if you haven’t been working out). Indulge in brisk walking, yoga, swimming, or stretching. Exercise can help you feel better, relieve stress, deter depression and improve your self-esteem.
Join a support group
When you feel lonely, find strength in sharing thoughts and feelings with others who understand what you’re going through. Attend a local vitiligo support group (if there is any). Else, join a closed support group on Facebook. Fellow support group members will understand your struggles and make you feel that you are not alone in this fight against stigma attached to vitiligo.
If you are reluctant to join a support group because you may see others with wide vitiligo spread, and could see your future in them, talk on the phone with others who have the same skin disorder. Knowing famous vitiligans who have succeeded in their respective careers should make you feel less alone.
Seek Expert advice
If feelings of sadness and depression grow stronger with the appearance of each white patch, discuss it with your family. Teenagers often need medical treatment to deal with depression in vitiligo. Your dermatologist may prescribe counseling. If the depression gets worse or doesn’t improve with therapy, you might need medication for depression.