As part of our ongoing guest blogger series, we’ve invited Lee Thomas to share his experiences on the Clinuvel blog. Lee is an award winning US journalist who has spoken widely about his experiences with vitiligo, including in a documentary entitled ‘Turning White’. You can learn more about Lee at http://www.leethomas.com/
“What the…?” “Why me…?”
“Where is that trucking school info…?”
“My career is…”
I couldn’t even finish most sentences.
It seemed like I was walking the green mile to my professional doom when I left the doctor’s office on that summer day in New York. I’m sure I was walking by thousands of moments of organic urban entertainment that would command most people’s attention in the Big Apple. But the argument in my head that seemed to be slipping out into a loud conversation, with myself, was much more engrossing and impending.
The freak out will happen.
It’s part of the journey. I was a young, dark skinned, African American TV reporter with white spots starting to appear on my face and the rest of my body. I thought I was going to lose it all.
Yes, I went through fear and loathing.
Yes, I went through pity and pain.
But I went through it and didn’t sit and wallow.
The war begins.
It’s “emotional warfare”, the battle you wage in your mind. You tell yourself all of these bad things and then you go out into the big bad world and people’s negative reactions fuel your internal dialogue.
The mental fight is about finding and acknowledging the good things: they are there and they are just as real as the tough stuff.
For every five people that don’t react to the sight of me, there is maybe one that gives out a negative comment. For every good thing that is happening in life, there is one dark cloud. It can not only block your vision of a sunny future, but make you begin to twist your self-image, sending you into hiding.
Vitiligo can drive you to seclusion. I spoke to a woman that had come to hear me speak, she hadn’t been out of the house in two months and her brother brought her to one of my lectures. He said my story gave her inspiration. “She hasn’t wanted to go out in a while.” Her brother said, “your story brought her to tears and she put on her make up and here we are”.
I am honored.
Vitiligo is not an easy road, but you can live a full and happy life with this disease. I am now a TV anchor with a beautiful daughter that I love very much. I am living my dream and, yes, the spots just keep coming.
Positivity is worth the fight. And when someone challenges your good day or your state of being, don’t let them have it. Fight through it, work around it, adapt and overcome.
Image courtesy of Lee Thomas