VERONICA ROLLS UP HER SLEEVES

A young woman with severe psoriasis and depression decides to take charge of her life.

Psoriasis Series
VERONICA ROLLS UP HER SLEEVES
A film by ANDY KEEN

Psoriasis Series

VERONICA ROLLS UP HER SLEEVES

A film by ANDY KEEN

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In this year, I had already stopped going to school. Um, this is probably one of the last times I did not wear sleeves in public. I still look at these pictures and go, “Oh my God, my skin used to be so nice.” I look just like my brother. It’s kind of creepy.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects over one million adults in Canada.

I vaguely remember one day in my bathroom. I was getting ready to go somewhere, probably blow drying my hair or something. And my mom noticed the patch on the back of my head, and she didn’t know what it was either, or what to do about it, and at that time, seeing a doctor never really came up.

After the diagnosis, that’s when everything kind of changed. I began staying home more, not really wanting to get out of bed, you know, depression, anxiety, that kind of stuff. I think I pushed away people more than they reacted. Everything that they wanted to do, whether it be go to the beach or go paint-balling. Or I remember one night, they all wanted to go to like a trampoline park. And the dialogue in my head kept saying, “You can’t do that. You can’t do that. You can’t do that.”

So eventually, by my mid-20s, I didn’t really have any friends anymore to speak of. Everything was long sleeves, either pants or skirts that touched the ground. Um, the only skin I ever showed was the skin on my face. And even then, if it was a bad day I wouldn’t even leave the house. You know, ‘cause walking around with a bag over your head isn’t really an option.

My girlfriends used to say, you know, “Oh, take your sweater off. No wonder you’re hot.” You know, they don’t get it. People recommended tea tree oil, so I would put a little tea tree oil on or whatever. But it just kept coming back.

I was on a different medication. I had been on that for almost two years. There was still consistent plaque and then the topicals would take a couple of layers off. That’s the thing with psoriasis, it’s nothing really stops it. It just keeps going.

It really played on her self-esteem. She looks in the mirror, how could she possibly love herself? I mean she’s looking at this thing going, “Ugh, like this is, you know, it’s gross. It’s itchy, it’s uncomfortable. I’m miserable.” Well if she doesn’t love herself, then how really is she going to love me?

Well, you know the saying that you can’t really love somebody until you love yourself. So even though at 23, I met a man who was able to see past the psoriasis. It became a battle of pushing him away.

It was rough. The fact that it battered her self-esteem so badly played a huge role in our dynamic, in our relationship.

Obviously, I still have a lot of guilt about how I behaved for the first five years of my relationship with him.

The reason that I hung in there is because I saw something in her. I saw that tenderness, that loving, that caring. I saw that big heart and I know that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

When I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and take it seriously, um, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m getting married.

They talked about the treatment several years ago now. And she kind of said, “Well we’ll keep that as a last resort.”

If I could do it differently, you know, when I got the diagnosis at 21, I would have seen a dermatologist right away. I would have gotten on a treatment right away. The sooner you get on top of it, the better off you are.

The results have been really great. The redness is almost non-existent. Um, there’s no real scaling happening anymore. My skin is the smoothest it has been in years.

So it’s still very strange to see myself in a wedding dress. I wasn’t one of those little girls that had her whole wedding planned, you know. In two weeks I’ll be the bride and the center of attention. It still, you know, brings up a few things. But um, you know, standing here today, it’s almost like there’s that part of me that can’t wait to have that big reveal and show myself off, you know. I’m kind of getting excited about it now. [Laughs]. So yeah, I get to be a bride.

Oh wow.

Yeah .They’re all like black around.

Awesome. What’s this?

Those are the calla lilies.

Okay.

You get a calla lily on your boutonniere. I get two calla lilies in my bouquet, and I think they’ve got one extra one for my hair or something.

Those are awesome.

Yeah.

I was asking Aaron some questions.

Mm-hmm.

And he was telling me about the first time he met you, and this reminded me of his answers. [Laughs]

Here, with the power invested in me by the Province of Ontario, I have the joy of announcing you, Veronica and Aaron, husband and wife. Aaron, you may now kiss your beautiful bride.

Directed by Juno Award Winner ANDY KEEN
Andy Keen and a still from his film

Andy is a Canadian documentary filmmaker whose films have been screened at festivals across the country and has been recognized with national awards. Escarpment Blues (2006), starring Sarah Harmer followed the singer songwriter on her tour of the Niagara Escarpment to raise awareness about the fragility of our natural resources. His 2012 film Bobcaygeon won him his 1st Juno and documented iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip as they played a riotous show for 30,000 fans in the tiny Ontario town that gave name to one of their most popular songs.

More about Veronica

Coming soon

What is Real LIFE STORIES?

Real Life Stories is a collection of documentary films about the impact of serious medical conditions on people’s lives. Directed by some of Canada’s top documentary filmmakers, each film brings a unique perspective of a patient’s own journey to healing, coping and seeking wellness. The intention of the series is to empower the voice of patients, raise awareness, understanding and empathy for those living with chronic disease. The 1st series focuses on Psoriasis.