"Remember, the entrance to sanctuary is inside you." -Rumi
Today we're getting a little personal. First, I am so happy that I can finally share the first set of images regarding my Morphea and Scleroderma awareness project. These images capture my photographic journey as well as my own personal growth.
I have always struggled with my self confidence when it came to my physical appearance. I have had Morphea since I was about four or five years old and it wasn't easy growing up with "dark marks" on my face, especially when the other kids (and adults) continued to remind me that they were there. Although it doesn't affect me like it used to, I still get caught off guard when someone brings it up now. This is where my idea came from, the fact that if someone looks different than another person they are considered to have something wrong with them.
"What happened to your face?" - nothing, it's just my face!
Morphea, or localized Scleroderma, is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by the excessive collagen deposition that leads to thickening of the skin. It can cause discolouration, indentations, and problems with muscle and bone growth. Specifically, I have a case called "en coup de sabre" meaning the marks on my face look as though I have been struck by a sabre sword. (I really didn't know what to think of this when I first read it!) For some it can cause pain around the effected areas, as well as movement restrictions and fatigue. Systemic Scleroderma is much different. Instead of effecting the skin, Systemic Scleroderma can effect internal organs, commonly the esophagus, and can cause chronic fatigue and pain throughout the body. There is no cure for any form of the disease, but there are treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease, but they also come with there own side effects.
I wanted to make this project to raise awareness for those who have Morphea and Scleroderma. Personally, I have yet to meet someone who has Morphea - I have only spoken with others online through groups that I joined.
With my photo series I've managed to pull a positive experience and message out of a once negative part of my life, and I hope to help others who feel "different" feel beautiful no matter what. We all have a story to tell and I would love to connect with others who are willing to share theirs!
These photographs are only the beginning and I can't wait to start producing more work around this topic in the future - thank you for reading!
Hello Michelle Liane
Candid lifestyle photographer and blogger based in Ontario.