A runner's bib lying discarded on a track

You Can’t Run Away: Psoriatic Disease Took Away My Future

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have taken so much away from me. I mean, it's lonely. I have low self-esteem, and I'm always answering questions about my skin. It's depleted me. For me, it's way beyond stigma.

These two diseases took away from my future and continue to play a role in my life, unwanted or not. While I have put a lot of these unhelpful thoughts behind me, they occasionally sneak back in at times.

The moment I realized my future would look different.

I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 5. I remember endless trips to the doctor with my parents. My skin looked strange. It was itchy and very painful. This condition covered my whole body. This was the itchy hand I was dealt.

On my first day of school, I knew. I knew I was different and that isolation was to be a part of my life. I was on the receiving end of so many stares. My classmates avoided sitting next to me. I was sad for many, many years.

After that first day, teachers and classmates were worried I was contagious. I was quarantined in a hospital for 3 weeks. My first week back to school was hell. I dreaded going to school every morning. My parents got tired of encouraging me and talking softly.

They used force and punishment when I refused to go to school. I grew accustomed to it, and soon I became cold. On the outside, it seemed that people's words and stares no longer bothered me. But on the inside, I was distraught.

What will my future with psoriasis look like?

My mother ran track in high school. Naturally, that's what I wanted to do as well. My mom was a marathoner on a national scale. I was told that she was one of the best, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Psoriasis had a different plan for me and kept me from achieving that dream.

No matter how much I ignored my skin - onlookers would have disgusted eyes and resentful words. My mental health took a toll. My skin was painful and hindered me from exercising the way I wanted. I couldn't spend long periods of time in the sun. I was held back from doing my best.

It was difficult to find a coach and be accepted into training camps. During the winter, my skin was flaky, painful, and scaly. My skin was itchy and bleeding; my clothes were filthy. My mother supported me. She helped me find a coach and was transparent about my condition. Though when it came to my teammates, I was boldly isolated.

I refused to give up. I let my behavior speak for me. I demonstrated determination and passion. I earned international recognition for my running - and was invited to run at meets.

Psoriasis has taken my biggest dreams

When my star was shining brightly at age 21, everything came crashing down. I woke up with painful knees and swollen joints. When I tried to run, my joints felt like they were grinding and breaking. This derailed my practice and prevented me from running most events.

A thorn throughout my body for decades. When I went to the doctor, I was told that the pain was in my head. It wasn't until 25 years later, at age 50, that I received my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.

My world fell apart, and my dreams were dashed when I had to say goodbye to my coach. I knew I had to seek another career path. It has been 40 years, and this is still a part of my life that still hurts. 

I will continue practicing the best treatments and raising awareness for psoriatic disease as a part of my new dream.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The PlaquePsoriasis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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