MY JOURNEY WITH VITILIGO
At the age of 14, I experienced a sudden change happening with my skin.
Some strange white spots started to appear out of the blue, starting with not so visible white patches. These spots and patches become brighter, paler, and bigger very quickly. At a certain point the white patches started to appear on my face, chest, back, arms and legs and before I knew my entire body was covered with this unknown condition!
The sudden appearance and spreading of these white patches were a major shock to me. It felt like the biggest mental slap that I have ever received. I truly had no clue what was happening to my skin and why this was happening to me. My family and friends were also shocked seeing me suddenly covered with strange white patches all over my face and body.
I went to see different doctors and visited several hospitals, yet no doctor could really tell me how these patches came to existence and how to treat them. The only thing they could tell me was that I was diagnosed with the skin condition vitiligo.
Feeling ashamed and disgusted of myself and my appearance, I had a truly hard time going outside in public. I did not want to go to school anymore because I was afraid of being stared at or being bullied. Yet I was given no option and I had to go to school whatsoever.
Luckily, I wasn’t being treated any differently by my friends at school than before. And just like me, my friends were also shocked about the white patches on my face and body.
Walking outside with white patches on my face, I noticed that I was being stared at a lot in public, little kids were shouting “MOM! Look at him, why does he have two skin colors?”. Of course everyone nearby started to look and stare at me because they were wondering what the little kids were talking about. I experienced situations like this almost every day and often multiple times a day. I could not stand the pressure, so I was always walking with my head towards the ground to avoid eye contact with other people.
I felt so ashamed of my appearance that I never wore any t-shirts, even during summer periods I covered my entire body. Swimming was a no-go! I was afraid that people at the beach or at the swimming pool would stare and talk about me. Everyone knew me as a social person who was able to talk with anyone, however not being able to deal with this skin condition changed me into an anti-social person, isolated from the outside world. I hid myself in my room playing videogames.
At the age of 16, I was introduced to a documentary called “The Secret, Law Of Attraction”, originated from the book written by Rhonda Byrne. My cousins introduced me this documentary, telling me that perhaps this could help me change my mindset and dealing with this skin condition.
Watching the documentary, I understood the spiritual teachings being mentioned in the documentary. I also understood immediately that this would take time and that it wouldn’t be a simple task to develop a new positive mindset where I had found way to accept and live with the Vitiligo in peace.
I watched this documentary daily for a long period of time days, weeks and even months! I was obsessed with “reprogramming” my mind. The amount of dedication was insane. My will to be able to accept myself with Vitiligo was strong and I was extremely determined to get out of the depressive way of thinking.
I did the best I could, being more aware with sending out positive thoughts towards the universe and change my way of thinking using “The Law Of Attraction”. This task was not easy at all, and it took a lot of time setting up the right mindset.
For a period, I took various attempts to treat the vitiligo. I received an ointment named Protopic and I visited the hospital two times a week for UVB Light Therapy. At that time, I was told that this treatment could raise the risks to skin cancer. Also, by receiving this treatment my skin got often burned by the UVB lights and I also had to be extra careful being exposed to the sun. I did these treatments for a few years. I still wanted to get rid of the vitiligo and tried a lot of different expensive products that I could find online. Products from Dubai, Thailand, and other places. With time I had gotten positive results as places my skin started to pigmentate to their original skin color. However, a few years later my Vitiligo started to come back worse than before at an extremely fast rate. Like a warrior beaten on the battlefield, I gave up hope and stopped with my treatments. During this period my feelings were so incredibly mixed up.
At a certain point I was done with constantly feeling sorry for myself and the need to isolate myself from others. I wanted to live a happy life once again! I decided that I had to face my fears and overcome those fears by myself, giving myself no other option then getting out of my isolated behavior. Thus, I decided to take that one certain job that would challenge me second to none to gain that self-confidence. I took a job as a door-2-door salesman and as a street salesman. I had to knock at people’s door or stop people on the streets, look them straight in the eyes, talk to them with great confidence. I had to be social, smile with dazzling eyes and try to “sell” them something. I was 18 years old when that decision was made.
During this period, I gave myself no other choice and threw myself into the deep. I had to become a social person once again, be able to talk with random people, develop myself and facing my fears. Slowly with time I became a different person thanks to my job as a salesman and my dedicated will to regain and rebuild myself.
I always had a certain charisma flowing around me and during my development this charisma became even stronger. I became a person who had the guts and confidence to look other people straight in the eyes once again.
I was able to develop myself into a new person and felt very proud of this progress. During my time as a street salesman, I decided to challenge myself on another level. I wanted to be able to speak and flirt with women in person.
Because I couldn’t talk with women or flirt with them ever before, I could only talk with them on the internet and on social media where I felt safe on a distance.
So the next step for me was quite frightening and unfamiliar. So, I took advantage of the moments he got during his working hours as a street salesman. I started to “select” some women to talk to and try to have a random conversation with. First, I was trying to “sell” them the product that I had to sell for my job. During the conversation I was trying to keep their attention with my eyes, my smile, and my charisma. Whenever I noticed that I had caught their attention in a certain way, I started to slightly flirt with them. Sometimes the women went with the flow, but most of times it didn’t work at all. But I kept trying and I did not give up that easily.
At a certain point I decided to bring my confidence to another level. Whenever I met a woman with whom I felt a click with during my conversations, I collected all my guts to ask her on a date or ask for her phone number. Often, they were flattered but wanted to stick with a friendly chat. It was more failure than success.
I saw this method as a therapy for my development without having any bad intentions. So, I decided to keep it up and push himself more instead of giving up.
Over time I felt more confident talking with women and it felt less of a challenge to flirt. The pressure to ask a woman on a date or ask for her phone number was still high. However, I kept pushing myself without giving up. As my confidence kept raising, I felt more comfortable and slightly more at ease when I was talking with women. Step by step I was overcoming my fears thanks to my strong dedication and not giving up.
I was 19 years old at that time.
A New Challenge
The process was amazing, but I wasn’t there yet. I was able to talk to women more however my guts and confidence was still limited. During this period, I liked going out to nightclubs and have a good time, away from daily pressures. The only thing that kept my limited at the nightclub was that I could only enjoy myself when I had consumed alcohol to loosen up. Without alcohol I did not have any guts or confidence to talk or dance with any woman at the nightclub, and so my third challenge began.I was fed up with having the need of alcohol to enjoy myself at nightclubs, so I tried to enjoy myself and dance with women without having the need of alcohol. It was a difficult and awkward challenge! I was still very shy, and the Vitiligo did not make it any easier for me back then. The environment in the club was also very different compared to the environment during the day in public. On every spot at the club, you could see “hungry men hunting for women”. I was shy so, I always used to “analyze” the club, the women, the men, and their behavior. I wanted to always avoid trouble!I took attempts and received many rejections, but I still did not give up. I used to go to the club almost every weekend to raise my self-confidence more. It took me quite some time to be able to do this. Eventually I was able to approach women and being able to flirt with them without having the need of any alcohol. This was also when I decided to leave alcohol out of my body from that day on.
I had reached the age of 21 at that time.
Of course, going out to the club almost every weekend wasn’t the life I wanted, it was just my method to raise my self-confidence and work on my self-image.
Thanks to this self-thought methods I was able to create more self-confidence however this didn’t mean that I fully accepted the vitiligo. In matter of fact, I still struggled a bit with accepting the skin condition at some points. When the Vitiligo came back more and aggressively, I felt that I just had to learn to accept it.
I decided to go deeper into personal development and watched the documentary “The Secret, Law Of Attraction” once again. Now that I was older with a different mindset, I did not only watch the documentary from a new perspective, but I immersed myself more into spirituality, self-love, and self-acceptance. I learnt that if you learn to love yourself first, life will be much more beautiful.
I was 22 years old when I embraced the skin condition completely.
A Purpose To Live for
Vitiligo became a part of me and I did not look differently at myself and at the skin condition ever since until I was given the chance to be a model with vitiligo in 2019. Never would I have ever thought of doing something like modeling, standing in front of the camera, pose and represent brands. The oppertunity was truly a blessing and of course one that I had to take with both hands right away. Before I knew it new collaborations and oppertunities came one after another and I noticed getting in touch with more people with vitiligo who were getting inspired by me and my work. It felt so fulfilling. While I was getting more connected with more people with vitiligo, I noticed that there was so much more awareness needed towards this condition.
In 2020 It became final, I founded Vitiligo Awareness International. A non-profit organization to help people with vitiligo and mentally guide them through their own journey. We have an international team which is still growing. Our goal is to be active in at least 20 countries by 2029.