Magic queer sluts with psoriasis

Clementine Morrigan talks about life with psoriasis

I text my partner about the psoriasis flaring up all over my body.

I tell them ‘I’m really scared, last time it was bad like this it was bad like this for years. What if it doesn’t go away?’

They reply, ‘Seems like the best thing you can do is try to just live your best scaly life babe. And let me love you.’

For those not in the know, psoriasis is a genetic, chronic, autoimmune condition that causes the skin cycle to speed up, producing patches of red, scaly skin. It can come and go in its severity, and it’s a condition that has no sure fire ways to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Autoimmune conditions have been connected to histories of trauma and chronic stress, and as a person who lives with complex PTSD this makes a lot of sense to me.

My first flare up of psoriasis

I first developed psoriasis when I was 18. A mysterious rash started popping up all over my body, red, itchy, and then, scaly.

I didn’t understand what was happening and being 18 and highly invested in my attractiveness, I was terrified. I wasn’t at all prepared when the doctor said to me bluntly: ‘It’s psoriasis. There is no cure.’

It felt like a door slamming in my face; like a future of sexuality, desirability, and love being snatched up from me just like that. I refused to believe that what I had was this incurable condition the doctor described, but google quickly confirmed that it was none other.

My psoriasis spread and multiplied and proliferated. My entire body was covered in dots and patches of red, inflamed, scaly skin.

I did everything in my power to get rid of it, including going to the hospital every single day for light therapy. Nothing worked, and all the stress just made it worse.

Accepting my psoriasis

Eventually, I gave up. I accepted my fate and decided I would look like this forever. Instead of investing my energy into fighting psoriasis, I invested my energy into accepting it. I did what I could to manage the pain and itchiness.

I advocated for my needs with my teachers and bosses. And I searched out and discovered a psoriasis dating website and found a psoriasis boyfriend. He turned out to be an overall not great human, but the experience of psoriasis4psoriasis desire was deeply healing for me.

After a few years my psoriasis all but went away on its own. It never completely cleared. I always had the classic red patched elbows and the generous white flakes falling from my scalp. But compared to having it cover most of my body, this was easy to live with.

I went on with my life like a non-scaly normy and didn’t think too much about it. But my sense of (p)solidarity never left me and I carried in my heart the knowledge that people with severe psoriasis frequently turn to immune-suppressant medications that highly endanger their health and they all too frequently turn to suicide.

The cost of falling so far outside standards of beauty and desirability is high. It can feel, like it felt for me when I was 18, like being sentenced to a life without sexuality, desirability, or love.

‘I still want to be desirable. I still want to be sexy’

When I was 31 and touring my third book, I found myself couch and bus hopping, lugging suitcases of books, and managing my flaring c-PTSD while extending myself beyond my capacity as a chronically ill person. I pushed myself too far and my body rebelled.

Psoriasis began flaring in places it doesn’t usually and before I knew it I was covered from head to toe, like I was when I was 18. This obviously compounded my stress, and despite all the work on (p)self-acceptance I did in late teens and early twenties, I was not prepared to plunge back into being someone with severe psoriasis.

I didn’t want it to be true, but there it was on my feet, all over my legs, on my pussy, my belly, my butt, my back, my breasts, my arms, my face.

My entire body is covered in psoriasis and while I can do my best to take care of myself, bring down my stress, and calm the chronic inflammation, there is nothing I can do to make it go away.

So here I am again, scaly as fuck. And I still want to be desirable. I still want to be sexy and have hot sex. I still want to be loved.

At 31, I’m a self-proclaimed slut and sex writer. As a queer person and survivor of sexual violence, claiming my sexuality has been hard work and is extremely important to me. But it is hard to feel sexy and confident when you are covered in red scaly skin from head to toe.

Anyone whose body falls outside of mainstream definitions of desirability doesn’t need me to tell them how much easier it is to talk about self love and acceptance than it is to face down the stares and comments and the fear of rejection and judgement.

‘Intimacy with my partner has deepened as I let them love my scales’

When I faced the reality that severe psoriasis had taken over my body again, I was flooded with terror that my partner would no longer be attracted to me and that dating and exploring sexuality with new people wouldn’t be possible anymore.

I was scared I would no longer be desirable or hot, that queers would stop flirting with me, and that my sex life would dry up. The opposite has turned out to be true.

Intimacy with my partner has deepened as I let them love my scales. Watching my partner take my psoriasis covered foot to their mouth and kiss my red inflamed skin is one of the hottest, most vulnerable, and sexy experiences I can imagine.

Setting up an okcupid with my partner to look for dates who want to have threesomes and putting up a picture of my partner licking my psoriasis to solidify that we are only interested in exploring sexuality with people who are down with my body as is, feels fucking affirming and hot.

Listening to my long distance date gasp and say, ‘Your psoriasis! It’s beautiful’ when she got me naked for the first time after my flare up feels fucking good.

Having a threesome with my date and my partner and watching both of them touching and kissing me all over is a powerful experience of letting fear melt into pleasure, vulnerability open to depths of intimacy.

Posting sexy psoriasis selfies and having the queers flood me with heat eyes and fire emojis, to have them share their vulnerabilities about their own body feels in the comments, reminds me that queer sexuality can and should be a space that liberates us to love and desire ourselves and each other in all our varied glory.

‘Psoriasis life has its fair share of pain’

I won’t gloss over the fact that jerks are still out there, that rude comments and stares still hurt, and the psoriasis itself can be painful and uncomfortable.

That complexity and ambiguity is still there, and psoriasis life has its fair share of pain. But it can also be a life full of pleasure and desire and love, including the very specific pleasure of being loved and desired in vulnerability and bravery.

When I first posted online about my flare up, my friend sent me a message with the phrase ‘magic sluts with psoriasis’ which I fucking love and use has a hashtag now.

Psoriasis makes me even queerer because it helps me to continue divesting from normative, oppressive depictions of desire and to move towards the very queer pleasure of loving the bodies we have.

This column first appeared on Guts magazine. Clementine Morrigan is a writer, poet, rebel scholar, teacher, and working witch. Find out more at clementinemorrigan.com, follow them on Instagram @clementinemorrigan or support via Patreon 

See also

Woman on woman sex for beginners: everything you need to know

Here’s what you need to know about cervical cancer

30 queer female and non-binary artists you should be supporting

 

Author: Clementine Morrigan

The post Magic queer sluts with psoriasis appeared first on Gay Star News.

Bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood opens up about PTSD and mental health stigma

Bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood opens up about her mental health for Nylon Magazine

Bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood has opened up about her experience at a mental hospital.

Tell me more!

Writing for Nylon, Wood recalls an experience she had at age 22, when she voluntarily checked herself into a mental hospital.

‘I have absolutely no shame about it,’ she says. ‘Looking back, it was the worst, best thing that ever happened to me.’

After a suicide attempt, Wood called her mother and asked to be taken to the hospital.

‘I hadn’t eaten or slept in three days. I felt like if you’d dropped me I would shatter,’ she writes. ‘I felt like nothing. But not in a way of despair like the night before. Instead, it was like I was a newborn who could barely open their eyes yet.’

‘The beautiful thing about being at the bottom is there is nowhere to go but up. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, so nothing I did at that point mattered. I had already proven to myself nothing mattered. So, I may as well surrender. I had to be vulnerable and give up some control. I had to put my shame and my pride aside. What did I have to lose?’

Asking for help

‘For the first time in my entire life, I asked for help. I admitted I could not go on without someone intervening, to pick me up off the floor. I had collapsed under the stress and pressure of being alive. My white flag was up. But dying didn’t work. Now, I must tell you, I don’t recommend having a near-death experience, at all, but I can tell you that many people who do come back end up with a very different perspective on life.’

On the way to the hospital, Wood and her mom stopped at a food truck. Her mom asked her why she had tried to kill herself.

‘I just wanted some peace,’ Wood replied.

PTSD

‘And that was true. My mind was not a peaceful place. My mind at the time was filled with scars and shadows and, most importantly, so much shame. I was struggling with PTSD and didn’t know it. PTSD is considered a mental illness; it can be caused by a number of things and is not limited to brave service people. My PTSD was caused by multiple rapes and a severely abusive relationship that went on for years.’

‘I had struggled with anxiety and panic attacks during the course of my life, but this was a whole other level of fear. I heard my name in my ear while I slept, which would jolt me awake. In my hazy stupor, I would see shadows, figures of people in my room. I would scream and they would dissipate. I was afraid to be alone, but I also couldn’t be around people. I could barely leave my own house. I was too afraid to go outside. I couldn’t sleep because every little noise was deafening. I was defensive, I was impulsive, and I had no healthy coping mechanisms yet. I lost friends. I lost job opportunities.’

Mental Health in the Public Eye

‘I have the great privilege and terrible burden of being in the public eye,’ Wood states. ‘So getting help for a mental illness is not something I can broadcast because people are quick to jump on a dying animal and rip it apart, especially when that dying animal is a child actor having a breakdown.’

‘My character had already been dragged through the mud quite a bit in the press, and the main consensus was: “She’s crazy.” I had really started to believe this. Most of the time we don’t see a person with a problem, we see someone we can tear down to make ourselves feel superior.’

‘But I wasn’t crazy, and I didn’t need to be kicked while I was down—I needed help. I needed understanding. I needed to feel unconditional love. I needed to not be judged. Unfortunately, most of these things are impossible if word gets out you have a mental illness and you are a public figure. So when it came time to find a psychiatric hospital, my first concern—which most people won’t have to worry about—was figuring out a way to get help without anyone finding out about it, because if they did, any chance I had at rebuilding myself would be severely impaired by the cruelty of strangers.’

Mental Healthcare for All

While Wood acknowledges her privilege as a well-off person in the public eye, she believes that mental healthcare should not only be accessible to the rich.

‘Mental health shouldn’t be a luxury for the rich. It felt like I barely made it in by the skin of my teeth—and I am privileged. Imagine how hard it is with no health insurance or money or resources?’

It took Wood a little while to get acquainted with the place. ‘I didn’t know what to expect,’ she writes. ‘All I had seen of psychiatric hospitals was Girl Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I had no idea what I was walking into.’

But ultimately, Wood discovered that those films did not portray an accurate account of psychiatric hospitals. She found a great deal of support at the hospital and still continues therapy to this day.

The Road to Recovery

‘I had felt worthless, and like the world was better off without me,’ she remembers. ‘But it turned out I had helped myself in a way I never thought was possible. I gave to someone who then gave back to me. And for the first time in years, I felt like maybe things did happen for a reason. Maybe there was a reason why my attempt didn’t work. Maybe I was supposed to be here.’

‘Sometimes I feel like a version of me did die that night, but a new me was born. Now my life is in a place I could have only dreamed of because I committed to do the work and I continue that work every day of my life in every step I take.’

‘I have continued my therapy. Eventually, I weaned myself off of medication. Because I felt like, once I was on my feet, I didn’t like the way it made me feel, or how it made me not feel. It got me where I needed to be, and now I am able to cope on my own. This is not true for everyone, but it is not something to be ashamed of. Everyone is different and needs different things.’

Destigmatizing Mental Illness

‘I am not always perfect, I am not always at my best, I still struggle with my PTSD, but I know that I will get through it. I have better tools now to get through what seem like the impossible times, and most importantly, I know my worth.’

‘There is no economic class, race, sexuality, or gender that is safe from their own mind. We know success doesn’t cure depression, we know that people telling you they love you doesn’t cure depression, we know that just thinking positively doesn’t cure depression. Depression isn’t weakness, it’s a sickness. Sometimes a deadly one. And sometimes all people need is to know that they are loved and that others are there for them. They may not take your hand right away, but knowing it’s there could save their life one day.’

See Also:

Feeling blue? LGBTI people living with depression give advice on how to cope

US bisexual veterans more likely to be at risk for depression and PTSD

Rose McGowan addresses trans row, did ‘5 days of trauma therapy’ and quit weed after incident

Author: Rafaella Gunz

The post Bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood opens up about PTSD and mental health stigma appeared first on Gay Star News.