New Delhi: Vitiligo is a rare auto-immune disorder but most people fall prey to myths associated with vitiligo and throw their questions at people with this disorder. Vitiligo is not always genetic and it is not contagious.
Shivaji Choudhary, 31, a branding specialist from Kota, was 9 years old when he saw some white patches on his skin. The little kid didn't know what it was and why his body was getting these white patches. He started assuming it might be due to deficiency of calcium or just a rash.
“Of course I faced difficulties with Vitiligo because you live in a society where people most of the time judge you based on how you look. I was bullied, I was called by different names and it was very hard for me since I was small with little knowledge of what Vitiligo is and how it will affect my body and mind. It was all new for me and from there on, I had to pick my battles and figure out how to live my life peacefully, but it was very difficult not just from the standpoint of appearance but this is also a mental battle because I gave people the power to tease me, I gave people the power to call me by different names. I felt lonely at times because other people can only try to understand but they don’t know what it’s like. Also, men suffer in the same way as women with vitiligo suffer. We also face rejection in marriages and the struggle is all the same. It's not a battle of gender but more of a mindset game,” said Shivaji.
Most of the time, people tend to ignore mental health as if it’s not a real thing. But the sad reality is that it affects people a lot more than anticipated. For Shivaji, the biggest battle has been with his mental health and mental space which is all personal and has nothing to do with anyone. According to Shivaji, it is very important to accept ourselves and also accept how people are going to react in the worst possible cases, in the worst possible manner and once they accept that people are not ready to be inclusive for them, and they are going to be judgemental, just go on with your life and focus on your goals rather than thinking about what others think or believe. This way one can live a better life.
“I feel great about my skin because I can see it uniquely. It is rare and the experience I have gone through, not many people have been through that. With Vitiligo, the white patches can either increase or decrease with medication or without medication but one must accept that it can increase as well, anything can happen, just accept the way you are and be chilled about it because you can't fight with nature,” said Shivaji.
In 2016, Shivaji created a social media platform with the name ‘Vitiligo India' where he shared his story and other people's stories of their Vitiligo journey. He once received messages on his personal Instagram account where people used to ask him how he is so confidently leading his life and many more, later Shivaji thought of creating another social media page on Instagram where he can separately share a person's story which will ultimately create awareness among people on Vitiligo.
“I was looked down upon and seen disgustingly. With Vitiligo India, I want to share my story that I am a normal person and I do regular things that other people also do and there is nothing different in me. Just because I look different, you can't treat me differently and as you have treated me differently, I am telling you that it’s not right,” said Shivaji.
Shivaji got regular messages on his Vitiligo India page regarding people asking about relations and marriages. In one of the messages, one person asked him that he is getting married and his partner has developed Vitiligo so what are the chances that their future child can also develop Vitiligo and can this run in the family. Many people ask Shivaji how one can lead their life confidently just like the way he does. Most people are afraid of this society who will continue to remain the same. The only difference one can create is by accepting this and focusing on their goals. Shivaji, through his social media page, wants to create a difference where people with Vitiligo don't feel ashamed of themselves but can proudly walk even if the surfaces are ragged.