By Danny Baggot @dan_baggie
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Videographer / director: Heath Franklin
Producer: Danny Baggott, James Thorne
Editor: Pete Ansell
Sabrina Speaks was diagnosed with skin condition psoriasis when she was just 12 years old and suffered major confidence issues in her teenage years – constantly trying to hide the scaly plaques on her skin.
Due to the sometimes unbearable pain, the now 23-year-old is unable to work and has to take great care when she wants to play with her children.
Residing in North Carolina with her husband, Daniel, and her two daughters, Sabrina admits that her family and motherhood has saved her from complete depression.
And thankfully, Sabrina has found more confidence in her own skin over the last few months and now hopes to educate people on something that is much more than “just a skin condition.”
Sabrina told Barcroft TV: “Psoriasis has affected my entire life.
“It is an autoimmune disorder. I want to make more people aware of that.
“Basically, it doesn’t allow my immune system to work in a way that it should.
“I produce skin cells way too quickly and I also have psoriatic arthritis – which is an arthritis that ties in with psoriasis in the most severe cases.
“The main side effects of my condition are fatigue, pain, swelling, itching, burning, depression and anxiety.
“I can’t work because of the pain it causes and also the reactions that I get from people seeing it.”
Whilst psoriasis isn’t a rare condition, the level of severity in which it impacts Sabrina is not as common.
“A lot of people have it,” she said.
“It can be brought on by many things. Stress or even a simple cold can start your symptoms straight away.
“But a lot of people do not have it as severe as I do, where a lot of treatments don’t work.
“I am 90 percent or more covered in plaques. I’m clearing up a bit now I’m taking my injections, but prior to this, I was way more covered from head to toe.
“According to my doctor, I am one of the worst cases they’ve ever seen.
“The hardest part about living with it is how it affects me as a person, how it changes me.
“I’m unable to be the person I want to be. I want to be running around with my children and doing things in the world without getting stared at, or without feeling pain.
“Unfortunately, I just can’t.”
There is currently no cure for psoriasis, but Sabrina is having injections on a treatment plan to try and ease the pain and the number of plaques she has.
It all started out as just one spot on the back of her head – a spot that suddenly turned really itchy and into a crusty patch.
Sabrina said: “It kept getting worse and worse.
“At first doctors said it was ringworm, but eventually, we found out it was psoriasis.
“In my teenage years, making friends was really hard.
“A lot of people were like ‘who’s that girl that has all that stuff on her skin’ and ‘why is she always tired?’ Just so many questions.
“I endured way too much bullying as a child and teenager.”
Thankfully, Sabrina has since found her happiness in the shape of her husband and two daughters, Sophia and Madison.
“My babies are my life,” she said.
“If I’m anything in this world, I’m a mother. That’s what I am first and what I’ve always wanted to be.
“On a daily basis, they drive me bonkers. But they have also improved my condition.
“They make me happier, they take a lot of stress away too.
“The turning point in my life was definitely having my first daughter, Sophia. The moment I saw her, I knew I had to be more confident for her sake.
“Whether that meant me suffering or not.”
And Sabrina’s husband, Daniel, 28, added: “I would describe Sabrina as a beautiful, loving mother and wife that would do anything for anybody.
“She’s got a heart of gold.
“When we first met, she told me about her condition. I was just like ‘you’re a really nice person and I want to get to you know you better’ - I didn’t mind it. We clicked right away.
“I try to take good care of her when she’s sick. She struggles a lot sometimes, I so want to make sure I’m there for her.”
Sabrina has a tricky time when out in public and tries her best to cope with the stares and pointing.
She said: “Adults are definitely more harsh than children.
“Children will come up and ask me about it. Whereas adults will just whisper, point, give you dirty looks and stares.
“They don’t bother to just ask. It’s really hurtful.
“I hope that with certain people reading and watching my story, they won’t be that person in the future.
“To not just me, but to anyone living with a disease or illness.”
Sabrina is now focusing her attention on raising more awareness for psoriasis and those who live with similar conditions.
“It’s so important to raise awareness for this because there’s just not enough information out there,” she added.
“We’re tired, we’re exhausted, we’re in pain – it’s a lot to handle.
“I am proud of everything I am trying to do in my life now, despite my condition.
“I have a loving husband and two wonderful children, so what more could I want?”