How does psoriasis impact your life day-to-day?
Even now I hesitate to show my lesions publicly. It’s not necessary judgement that I am concerned with, but I would rather not have to talk about it at all if it can be avoided. Unless, of course, I know someone else who suffers from it, then I would love to share information and support.
What areas of your life are most impacted by psoriasis?
I think my self-esteem and my self-image were seriously impacted by having it. I remember one instance when I was playing baseball as a teenager and I had to wear short sleeves. When we all put our hands together to cheer, the plaques on my arms were noticed and everyone moved away with some thinking it was poison ivy. Around this time, I learned that the sun can help treat it, and so I wore shorts while working on the tractor all day and would end up giving myself second degree burns out of a naïve hope that it would somehow go away if I got enough sun. A variety of negative social experiences tended to leave an impression on me and made me feel inadequate.
Does psoriasis impact your relationships?
I know that I’ve been hesitant to reveal my condition to girlfriends in the past which I learned was needless, as it has never been an issue. I think in many respects it’s easy to make it seem like a bigger deal than it is, especially when you are younger. I know that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that almost everyone has issues they have to deal with.
What do you do to manage and treat your psoriasis?
I discovered that light therapy works very well to clear my skin - although there is the inconvenience of having to attend the dermatologist office for repeated treatment. By the time I get up to 5 minutes of treatment time, my skin is clear and that will last for a few months. I have an aerosol spray that I use now to manage it as well as a coal tar/steroid cream mixture. I have also found that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric work to help clear my skin. I would also mention that diet makes a huge difference. I think the connection between this and the condition is drastically underappreciated. Managing my diet, sleeping properly, and reducing stress all go a long way towards keeping the psoriasis in check.
What do you know about psoriasis now that you wish you had known when you were first diagnosed?
I wasn’t properly informed of the comorbidities associated with the disease. I thankfully had a very good health care provider who told me that ‘what it is doing to your skin, it is also doing to your insides,’ and then made me understand that is not ‘just’ a superficial disorder. It can cause other health problems. I am more conscious now of managing anything related to blood pressure since I know I’m already at a disadvantage.
I would have also liked to have been told that having it isn’t the end of the world. Getting it while younger is difficult since you are at a time in your life where social interactions are much more superficial. I didn’t have the best support system at the time, and I think the message I learned from that on reflection is to put it in perspective and realize that a large part of the battle is mental and based on how you choose to react to it.
What do you want others to know about living with psoriasis?
You aren’t alone and you are part of a community that cares about you and knows exactly what you are feeling. With the depression and self-esteem issues that can be associated with the disease, it is very easy to feel like no one understands you and that your situation is hopeless but overcome that hesitancy to change your life circumstances for the better. My own situation didn’t change until I got over my fears and moved to Japan after university. This was monumental in changing my perspective on myself and building relationships that allowed me to be a more positive person. If you don’t like where you are in life, then you need to put the effort in to improve your circumstances.
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