Educating Our Friends And Family About Psoriasis
It has taken me many years to become increasingly aware of the psychological burden that psoriasis has taken on me. The first time I confided in a close friend about this disease marked the beginning of a long journey towards self-acceptance.
I remember very clearly how her calm disposition helped me to experience compassion. I opened up and how the questions she had asked showed her genuine concern for my wellbeing.
The stigma of psoriasis
I struggled to explain to others why there were so many flakes stuck in my hair. It was mentally and devastatingly tough to have to consistently explain what all over my skin. Recalling these memories, I realized how I've played into the social stigma of un-acceptance.
Consequently, it was clear that I had then directed my frustration and anger onto my body. So, how can we change the way our society or at least our immediate surroundings of people regard physical diseases? How can we change the discourse of social stigmas, especially against diseases? Especially those diseases that manifest physically - like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This question has been on my mind for over 50 years.
Educate and raise awareness
Very simply put, the message we communicate to those around us is that we are not beneath or inferior. Despite looking different in your eyes. Judgmental or averted gazes may leave us irritable and hurt but we can help our friends open their eyes.
We need to educate their knowledge or open their minds to awareness. All it takes is a willingness and some courage from us to turn psoriasis into a conversation. I would like to believe that the end goal should be as easy as saying, I had a bad day today, how are you doing?
What I found particularly helpful in the beginning was to start with people I trust and feel very comfortable confiding in. There is no need to push yourself to educate those who have been the hardest on you. We will work on them slowly. Best to start on a good note to feel encouraged. Be patient with the process and I assure you that you will notice things change as I have.
Compassion from friends and family
Are you getting the help you need? Are you hearing what you need to hear? I am so sorry you are going through this. People want to pity us. Trust me, we do not need pity. We don't expect people to completely understand what we experience every day, but every effort to empathize could certainly go a long way. At the end of the day, compassion empowers but pity discourages.
I’ve had wonderful people in my life who always remind me not to fret over the tiny flakes that I may leave behind on their sofa. People who are actually just ready to listen, more than you think they are. The most common response I have received so far has been "Wow, I’ve never knew you were going through this. Thank you so much for sharing this with me."
For as long as only one person is willing to open-up and ignite a call to solidarity and support, we can make a change. Be the change you want to see in the world and make a commitment to yourself to speak to one or two people about psoriasis this week. Let your journey towards self-acceptance set in motion today.
Does your psoriasis skin feel out of control? How are you managing?