Coping Through The Ages
We all have coping mechanisms don’t we; little things that make having psoriasis a little easier? As I think back on my years of living with this disease, I see how this prominent theme of coping has changed from one thing to the next over the years. Much like psoriasis, what worked to deal with the emotional and physical pain of the disease for a while, stopped working, and I was forced to find something new. Some things were fun, while other things were more serious, but they all helped me in one way or another.
Since I was a strapping young lad in the early 90s when I was diagnosed, my go-to way to deal with my newfound disease was to get lost in video games. I had always enjoyed playing these virtual reality games, but after the plaques started to appear was when my gaming career ramped up. Oh man! I could get through the entire game of Golden Eye 007 in a matter of days.
As the years passed, I started to outgrow a lot of the games I used to play and focused instead on movies. If anyone needs a trivia partner, I have memorized lines from most of the well-known movies from 1996-2005. My wife always gets mad that I can never remember to take out the trash, but I can recite a whole monologue from When Harry Met Sally.
The draw of movies was that I was able to pretend I knew what it felt like to live without lesions covering the length of my body. For those 90 minutes, I observed the lives of stars falling in love, going on grand adventures, engaged in thrilling scenarios, and living a life I only dreamed of. I think this is why I wanted to pursue being an actor in college. I liked the idea of being someone else; someone who didn’t have to worry each day about a disease there is no cure for.
Entering adulthood and having kids ate up most of my free time, so I then turned to eating as a way to temporarily cope. Indulging in decadent food gave me a burst of happy feelings. Treating myself with food distracted me from the pain and itching. I couldn’t find ways to make my lesions subside, but I could always soothe myself with chocolate or pizza.
Nowadays, my most effective form of coping with my disease is by diving into research. I love learning about what is upcoming in the treatment pipeline. This gives me hope, and I feel like it is the most positive form of coping I have utilized. It keeps my mind occupied on the future and something to look forward to instead of just numbing or ignoring my disease. I recently have looked more into patient-centered research. This allows me to contribute to ongoing studies of the disease. Research gives me an outlet for coping with my disease by reminding myself that there are a lot of really great people actively looking for a cure and for more ways to improve the lives of those with psoriasis.
I know that I will always have to use one thing or another to cope with my disease. If I didn’t, I would probably have an emotional breakdown. Chronic disease demands that I deal with things I never thought I would have to. My goal is to continually try to seek ways to cope that encourage me to be the best person I can be.
Do you anxiously anticipate a psoriasis relapse?