Being Real and Being Thankful with Psoriasis
Last updated: August 2018
When I talk to others with psoriasis the thought that it could be much worse does come up. But I wonder if this line of thinking comes too early and prematurely.
I don’t discount that others certainly could be experiencing great difficulties in their life. I think of those with life-threatening health conditions like cancer, or those going through challenging life situations such as broken relationships or financial difficulties. Every day I hear of tragedies on the news, riots on the street, or wars overseas.
Seeing what others go through does take my eyes off of myself. It gives a measure of perspective on the context of my life. I recently met an old friend visiting for business the other day. I enjoyed catching up with him, especially work and family. He said that he felt better about his situation after hearing all that I’m going through. We shared a hearty laugh when I told him I felt the same way.
Being Real with Psoriasis
I appreciate relationships where I can be real. My friend and I spent hours sharing our ups and downs with life. We didn’t sugar coat the downs and the bad. Others I talk to might not know how to respond when I share about the anxiety of an upcoming treatment change, or the anger associated with an unremitting flare. When someone glibly says, “It’ll be okay, don’t worry about it,” or talks about themselves when I’m sharing, I get upset. I need to share how I’m really feeling before I can hear any advice or life mantras. I need people I can be real around—no judgment, and no quick fixes.
It’s not just with others that I sometimes don’t acknowledge the truth of how I’m doing with psoriasis. When I think that I’m better off because others are worse off I often miss a step. I easily neglect acknowledging the hurt, pain, and difficulty of what I’m going through. By minimizing or rationalizing my own experience I short change myself.
I want to be thankful and know I should be, but I first need to be real with myself.
I use a test to determine if I am looking past my own feelings. If I hear the word “should” with a feeling, then I need to pause. I’ve heard myself say, “I should feel grateful that at least I have a job,” when I’m not effectively dealing with an irritation at work. Or I could say, “I shouldn’t complain about my skin, it’s been much worse,” when I am irritated by intense itch or out breaking plaques. In the same vein I can tell myself, “I should just move on, this is nothing,” when I’m faced with fighting yet again to have my medication approved.
Living with psoriasis is just plain horrible sometimes. Not all the time, but certainly it has its moments.
Being Thankful for Psoriasis
Once I’m real about psoriasis, I more authentically move on to gratitude. It’s not healthy to stay complaining, or in negativity about psoriasis, either. That leads me down dark paths that I have traveled, and now wish to avoid. Gratitude is a wonderful and proven way to change the narrative.
At a recent meeting with other psoriasis bloggers, I participated in an exercise of gratitude. We filled in the blank, “I am grateful for . . .” My list included an understanding wife and children, the partnership I have with my dermatologist for my care, opportunities to tell my psoriasis story and advocate for others, and the love of my church and psoriasis family. With Thanksgiving coming soon, I don’t want to forget this important exercise of counting my blessings.
Can I even be thankful for psoriasis? Some outcomes of having psoriasis I definitely am grateful for. Psoriasis gave me empathy and compassion toward others facing similar situations. It’s a daily reminder of how I need to exercise faith to meditate, pray, and seek supernatural strength. It led me to invest my life to advocate and speak up for others. So in a way, I am thankful for psoriasis. It’s part of my life and informs who I’ve become.
This Thanksgiving I hope you enjoy the company of friends and family, eat lots of turkey and stuffing, and get a break from work or school. Sometimes everything is going great, and there’s nothing to really complain about. But if there is, I hope that as you fill in the blank, “I am grateful for . . .” that you can first be real with whatever you are going through, especially with psoriasis.
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