You might not believe it now, but Ciena wasn’t always open about her psoriasis. Growing up, she tried her best to keep the condition hidden in order to blend in.
“My earliest memories in elementary school,” she says, “are just feeling like an outsider and alienated in some way because I had this thing that I thought people were looking at all the time.”
She remembers being called names in the third grade, being the kid who was in and out of doctors’ offices, and who always wore long sleeves and nail polish to cover skin rashes and disguise pitted nails. “I would wear hoodies even when it was hot outside,” says Ciena.
For the most part, her subterfuges worked. But that all changed when Ciena was in college and experienced a very bad flare that led her to the emergency room. She says more than 80 percent her body was covered with red, raw, weeping patches of psoriasis, and she had severe fatigue, a fever, and chills: “I was very ill.”
“I would wear hoodies even when it was hot outside.”
For the first time in her life, Ciena switched her focus to her health — she decided to take a break from both school and acting, which she’d been actively involved in since she was 14. “My psoriasis needed my attention,” she says, “and I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t there anymore. I let it get to that point, [and now I had to do] something about it.”
After years of hiding psoriasis, Ciena knew it was time tell people about it, and she had to figure out how. Social media gave her a way to “come out” about psoriasis to everyone at once.