Peace in the Eye of the Psoriasis Storm
I marvel at the power and force of nature. Living in California each day there is the potential for landscape leveling earthquakes such as the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck Northern California in 1989. In other parts of the country, there is a different threat of natural disaster: hurricanes.
What strikes me the most is how calm the center, or eye, of the hurricane can be with gale force winds all around it. The eye of the hurricane is the point by which the rest of the storm rotates. Winds are light and skies are calm above the eye. The winds converging on the center never quite reach it, instead, they deflect away forming the hurricane’s eyewall.
As with a hurricane, the winds of psoriasis swirl around all the time, much worse in a flare-up. Like those sustained strong hurricane winds, the symptoms of a chronic illness rarely let up much. I’ve had to learn to focus my attention to where I can find that “eye” in the psoriasis storm.
Focus on what’s inside
About twelve years ago I experienced the worst psoriasis flare I can remember. Treatment after treatment failed to calm the accelerating inflammation on my skin. With most of my body covered in lesions, I felt hopeless and desperate. I did continue to seek treatment and see my doctors. But in the process, I also discovered the power of tapping into internal strength that I didn’t know was available to me until I dug deeply in that crisis moment.
A few strategies work for me to focus on my heart and mind, including prayer/meditation, relaxing activities, and finding hope in a better tomorrow. One of my mottos becomes vastly more important in those stormy times: this too will pass. Storms inevitably let up. The worst passes through often in darkness and night. As many times a storm comes, it eventually leaves.
Focus on what’s truly important
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, I found myself and others with a new outlook on life. People turned to what’s truly important in their lives. They hugged their spouses and children and made time with friends. They remembered those who lost their lives and looked back on cherished times with them. People sought peace in a chaotic time. The reality that life is sometimes shorter than we think hit close to home.
I don’t always feel that same sense of urgency to focus on higher priorities, as I easily become distracted by my smartphone or daily work priorities. Those activities can keep me from what’s more important, such as building strong relationships and caring for my health. In a big storm, though, I need to stay focused on keeping everyone safe and healthy, including myself. A great benefit of maintaining my psoriasis well is the strength and health to pursue what is truly fulfilling in life.
Focus on what doesn’t change
I have a better chance of experiencing the calm in the eye of the storm when I focus on things that are relatively more stable. Of course, everything seems to change, as the proverbial saying goes, except change itself. The sudden changes that psoriasis can bring to my life also can make me anxious and unsettled. Flares can come on suddenly, or medications can stop working without much warning.
Focusing on that which endures brings about greater inner stability and peace. For me family and faith ground me like roots that grow deep in the earth—hidden but strong. My values don’t easily change either, as I strive to make a positive impact in others’ lives through commitment and responsiveness. My dignity, worth, and purpose are not at stake. Psoriasis as a chronic illness does not diminish my worth as a human being.
The winds of discomfort, stress, and fear related to psoriasis will knock me down from time to time. Paying attention to what’s inside, important, and lasts, however, allows me to live in a space like the eye of the hurricane. That’s the place where I can find peace, rest, and a respite from all that swirls around me.
Do you anxiously anticipate a psoriasis relapse?