My name is Nono Osuji and in Skin Struggles I recount my personal experience and struggle with Lupus. Welcome to the 1st post on my ongoing journey.
A woman’s greatest asset is her beauty… or so I used to believe.
As a woman who has always loved everything related to beauty: skincare, makeup, and hair etc. No really, I remember being a little girl around 8 or 9 and just playing in my mother’s makeup for hours trying to copy the looks in the Essence, Seventeen, and Ebony magazines laying around the house or that I “borrowed” from the library. I, like many young women growing up, put so much emphasis on the way that I looked. So if I was having a good hair day, then indeed I was having a good day. When I felt pretty I had a better mood and seemed to look at the world through rose-colored lenses. But on those days that I felt fat, or my face was not looking right or my hair was horrid, I felt it emotionally, and oh boy did I feel it.
I know what it feels like to be ugly, no not feel, but BE UGLY. I went through what I call the seven years of ugly. After being a cute baby and an adorable little kid all of a sudden at the age of 8 until the age of 15, I was awkward. Actually awkward is an understatement, I was a hot mess! Picture this- early 90s with a jheri curl (YES a jheri curl like let your SOUL GLO), girl/womanly body, so some hips, no boobs, really more like man boobs, 5’7”, Sally Jessie Raphael bright red glasses and some hair above my upper lip paired with early 90s fashion – A HOT MESS. The hair changed from a jheri curl to box braids, but still a hair failure all together. Despite the fact that I had often done myself wrong by some early hairstyle choices, I had always had a thick, relatively long, head of hair. Later on in life when I learned what hairstyles worked best for me I would garner a lot of compliments on my hair. In addition, my childhood obsession with makeup turned into a full grown teenage and later adult obsession. I would practice doing makeup on myself, my sister, my mom, my friends and anyone else I could get my hands on. I took good care of my skin and was giving myself facials at the early age of 11. I soon became a makeup artist and did some freelance work for friends and other clients for special occasions. I knew I had a knack for beauty and I loved it, and I loved sharing my talent with others. I worked with some well-known makeup brands, and used these experiences to learn more about the industry and stock up on more makeup. Oh and the seven years of ugly faded midway into my fifteenth year of life. I lost the baby fat, got rid of the glasses, groomed my brows, waxed my upper lip, grew into a very womanly body and had great hair; I was officially a pretty girl! My newfound confidence and outward appearance made the rest of my high school and college years very interesting, to say the least.
I had moved to NYC two years after I graduated college to pursue an acting career. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? I have been acting since I was seven. My debut role was as The Big Bad Wolf, in my 3rd grade presentation of The Three Little Pigs ever since then I have had the bug. So being that I am pursuing a career where your image and appearance determine 80% of the chances of your success I definitely learned to take care of myself. However, in an industry where looks matter I started to put a lot of my self-worth into the way that I looked and the way that others perceived my looks. So if I had a great audition and they told me I was pretty I was a great actress, but if I wasn’t the right look or my hair wasn’t right or my skin color was too dark then I too saw what they saw. All of that changed when I started to lose my hair. I was 24 years old and could not understand what was happening to me. I had always had thick hair and now I was balding. This was an obvious blow to my already fragile ego and I didn’t really know why this was happening to me. Thankfully I found a hair stylist that I had read about in Essence magazine. Her name was Sabina and she had a hair treatment that was all natural that could restore and help re-grow hair. I spent a lot of money going to Sabina to get my hair treatments. I went when I could afford to go and soon started to see results. I finally came to a place where I was comfortable with my hair and although not as thick as it once was, it still looked nice and it started to garner compliments once again. This would not be the only time that I would suffer hair loss. It first started four years later with what I thought was a rash on both of my eyelids from threading my eyebrows, but it turned out to be one of the first symptoms of an auto-immune disease that would wreak havoc on my flawless skin and once again have my hair falling out in clumps along with a rapid deterioration of my body and kidneys. At the age of 28 after being a relatively healthy for most of my life I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I did not know that the “rashes” on my eyelids were only the beginning to one of the worst physical and emotional experiences of my life.
I created thelupusdiaries.com to share my experience of being diagnosed with Lupus with others. For me, Lupus first attacked what I thought was the most dear-my appearance. I know that I am not alone in suffering from a disease that not only cripples you internally but externally as well. I wanted to create this post to share my story and offer support to others who are suffering with an illness that has in your eyes stolen your spirit and beauty. I know it’s hard to hear when you are going through it, but it hasn’t, you are still beautiful. I welcome your feedback and definitely encourage you to share your stories with me and the others on the site. Every Thursday there will be a new entry from me, in the course of the week there may be more but Thursdays will be when I share my personal experience. I hope that this blesses each of you and encourages you at this time in your life with whatever you are going through.
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside of them was superior to their circumstance”- Bruce Barton