Waking up one morning in my thirties with my neck on fire from painful, livid red sores was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I went to a dermatologist and was diagnosed, finally, with scalp psoriasis—an autoimmune disease affecting, in my case, the scalp and neck.

That wasn’t the start of my journey with psoriasis. When I was in the fourth grade, I started noticing that I was scratching my head a lot. I would be reading a book and find that my right hand was scratching my scalp, usually at the very top of my head. Soon, I was pulling scabs off my head—strange, silvery scabs that didn’t look like typical dry skin.

The sores moved down to my neck, and soon my mother noticed them when she washed my hair. She took me to the doctor, thinking I had ringworm. They tested for it and determined that I needed to see a dermatologist. After cutting chocolate, dairy, and caffeine from my diet and slowly reintroducing them, it was determined that I wasn’t allergic to any of those. The doctor told my mom that I had dandruff and needed to use a mild dandruff shampoo every other day.