By Liana Jacob
MEET THE NOMAD who after years of being bullied because of his psoriasis-covered body and called names like ‘pizza face’ by his closest friend is having the last laugh – after finally finding confidence in himself through bodybuilding.
Nomad traveller, Lucas Castillo (28), from Maryland, USA, was just 13-years-old when he first noticed a spot appear on his forearm and knew he had psoriasis as his mum has the same condition.
Growing up, Lucas ended up losing his confidence due to the stares he received and was bullied by his peers and even his friends began teasing him which lead him to feel shy and depressed.
His insecurities opened him up to pursue bodybuilding when he was 23-years-old and he has since embraced his appearance while growing in confidence.
“I believe my skin began attacking my face once my acne seemed to lose control. I was fifteen. I had a spot below my left eye about the size of a quarter, and then eventually spread all over my face,” Lucas said.
“Wherever there was acne, psoriasis seemed to grow in its place. Any open wound or cut would also turn to psoriasis.
“It was probably one of the harder times in my life; I had a rough few years being bullied before my psoriasis appeared.
“I had actually gained new friends and the bullying seized but once the psoriasis took over, even my closest friends were bullying me about my skin. It made me shy, depressed and feel less of a person.
“I was in a period of already trying to fit in and have friends in my teens. You see I grew up in a Christian academy for a few years and then joined public schooling, so things were already difficult growing up.
“So, getting bullied, then to gain popularity, and then to fall down again with a chronic illness made me feel like I would be battling myself for the rest of my life. My heart broke. It was like no matter what I did, I would somehow always feel like a loser.
“Everyone’s reactions are pretty much the same; shocked, surprised, scared, and full of questions. Growing up I always made sure to avoid attention but strangely enough, strangers were always polite.
“It was my so called ‘friends’ that were being nasty with their comments. I can only remember one negative comment that angered me the most and that was ‘pizza face’ from a close friend. I forgave him. We are still friends.
“Keeping fit has always kept my mind in a good place. I started training to build my confidence actually.
“The early trauma of being bullied and my psoriasis I guess triggered me to pursue bodybuilding when I was twenty-three.
“I trained in high school and participated in football and track and those were my outlets in high school, but once I turned twenty-three, I started taking the training much more seriously.
“I’d say my training is something I’ve come to live for. I love how much bodybuilding has become an art form in my life and it’s quite meditative.
“To this day I am still working on overcoming my insecurities. There are good days and bad days. Growing up I honestly kept it a secret from most people somehow.”
Lucas now says that his confidence has opened him up to more activities, while before his insecurities held him back from so much.
“I found ways to keep my psoriasis covered and unseen. My strength has honestly grown the most since advocating for psoriasis earlier this year on Instagram,” he said.
“I was humbled to find others like myself sharing their stories so openly, so I knew it was time to step out from the dark after pretending my Psoriasis didn’t exist for so long.
“I was honestly unaware of the triggers until this past autumn when my worst flare up began. Today we have so many scientific and holistic approaches that it is difficult to figure out exactly what the triggers are.
“Food certainly dictates most chronic illnesses and the ‘no’ list is quite long, but I am currently still in the process of healing my gut.
“We all know that stress is the number one most common trigger. Though I also believe that Psoriasis and other chronic illness is psychosomatic.
“Illness can certainly develop by just going against our belief system. I find it quite fascinating since right now, I am making progress on my very own.
“Once I embraced my illness, I have received nothing but love and it has been overwhelming. You know, if anything, I believe my skin has been a blessing in disguise.
“My psoriasis has taught me lessons. It’s taught me gratitude. It’s taught me how important health is. There are days that I want to give up.
“I’ve had days where I thought I wouldn’t see tomorrow but damn am I proud of myself for becoming who I am today.
“Even when the odds are against you, never back down from the fight. Psoriasis is more than skin deep. It’s the biggest lesson of our lives.”