When did you receive your psoriatic arthritis (PsA) diagnosis? And what was that like for you mentally and emotionally?
I was diagnosed with PsA in July 2019. I had extensive joint pain and fatigue that just wasn't getting any better. Although my psoriasis is very mild, my doctor explained to me that I may not experience both psoriasis and PsA the same way. I thought 'great, here we go with another disease I have to learn and manage.' Needless to say, I felt very overwhelmed and unsure of how this would impact my life further. I knew mentally it would take more out of me because the pain was so intense.
Would you say that PsA takes an emotional toll?
Yes, there is an emotional toll with PsA. It is realizing the life you had before needs to be modified and admitting that there are some things you can no longer do. It's coming to terms with that, and it takes time and allowing yourself grace. Adjusting is a hard but necessary step.
What has the One to One program and other support from NPF meant to you?
Finding the One to One program was such great timing for me. I had just received my diagnosis and wanted to some help to navigate questions to ask my doctor. That's when I found Tami! She was there in the trenches with me and guiding me along. It set me up to be a winner and prove I can manage this disease.
NPF is investing in learning more about the mental impacts of psoriatic disease through our More Than Skin Deep mental health grant. Would you like to see insight into the physical and mental connections between psoriatic disease and mental health?
Yes, it would be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out.
Do you feel there’s a connection between PsA flares and the onset of mental health challenges?
Yes. Anytime you feel pain, it plays on your mental health. It's good to have a strong therapist on your team along with support from your friends and family.
What do you want people to know about having PsA?
Having PsA is like most autoimmune diseases in that it can be very invisible. Although you can't see the effects on my skin, I feel it in my joints, and the fatigue can be crushing. I feel bad when I've made plans and at the last minute I have to cancel because I don't feel well. Or, one minute, I can open a jar and the next minute I can't. Just because I look OK doesn't mean I am. Most times, I've learned how to hide how much pain I feel.