Ask The Advocate: Managing Insecurity & Psoriasis
While each person’s psoriasis journey is different, and their psoriasis symptoms and treatment experiences may not be the same, there are frequently well-worn paths that are taken and common barriers that are encountered by people living with psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the skin and other body parts and systems, currently, there is no cure. If you're looking for a community that understands, then look no further.
Advice from our advocates
When it comes to your health, you can be one of your best advocates. But when you’re in pain and coping with the emotional toll of psoriasis, it isn’t always easy to advocate for your own needs. We asked our advocates for their perspectives and for some words of wisdom when it comes to living with psoriasis.
Our question: How do you manage insecure thoughts?
I have had psoriasis for 56 years. I crawled up in a hole that took me 30 years to come out of. People treated me like an outcast and that was how I felt. I was shy, afraid of my shadow, scared, nervous, timid. I had it all. It took one person in high authority to say one thing to me, "You have a voice, use it". That was what it took.
I knew I had to let go of the past and hurts that people had beaded in my mind. I put the negative thoughts behind me of people calling me ugly and pointing and starting and "don't touch me" remarks. I told myself one day, you got this, leave the craziness behind.
I made a plan to change those negative thoughts and have positive people who lift me up and not put me down. I started advocating. I didn't have a clue what that meant. I had my first support group meeting with 10 people. I didn't even have a bottle of water to offer. but I felt good after that. I started having these once a month.
You couldn't tell me nothing than an organization started buying food for the support group and paying for speakers. It has been 15 years. I follow my interests and I'm living my best life with no insecure thoughts.
We all have insecure thoughts from time to time. It ties in with the negative reactions we sometimes get. The best way I find to encounter this is to remember a good time or a good moment in your life. Maybe a time when you didn’t have psoriasis or another chronic condition. It might be a special occasion such as a wedding or vacation, or a time when you were with your family. For me, it helps just to think about this moment for a few minutes to really interact with the happiness in your life.
Another good way to tackle insecure thoughts is to meditate. Each morning when my psoriasis was bad I used to meditate, sometimes for 5 minutes, other times for 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter how long you do it for, just remember to be in the moment. Meditation is a great way to tackle insecure thoughts and there are good smartphone apps like Calm which are free and easy to use.
If you’re having persistent insecure thoughts it may be good to chat with someone you trust such as a family member or friend. Talk through what you’re feeling in relation to your psoriasis and how the thoughts are impacting you. This can be a great way to discern how small or insignificant the thoughts are, allowing you to get on with your day once more.
Living with itchy, red skin for most of my life, has led me to feel insecure a lot of the time. But in 2013, I was introduced to mindfulness which has been a game-changer for the way I see my skin and myself. Through mindful living and meditation, I’ve become aware of my thoughts, feelings, and body sensations and found ways to work through them in a constructive way.
So for example, if I notice a feeling of insecurity, which happens a lot when I flare. I acknowledge the thought is there. I don’t push it down or shame myself for feeling that way. Instead, I look at ways to take care of myself in that moment. Sometimes I’ll journal about the thought and my worries around it. And other times I’ll just give myself a hug and remind myself I’m doing the best I can. I then give myself a new, more empowering thought or affirmation to replace the thought that brings out my insecurity.
I’ve dealt with negative self-talk and thoughts most of my life. I am academically bent and did fairly well in school. But I used to tell myself I am stupid and ugly, wondering why anyone would give me a scholarship or take an interest in me. I figured they would find out soon enough the awful truth of who I am. As I look back, psoriasis played a major role in my feeling this way about myself.
The love and acceptance of others, especially those who know me and my psoriasis best, helped me overcome those insecurities. My faith played a key role too. I came to reason that if others stuck with me, even though I thought myself as unlovable, then my self-doubt and insecurities might be wrong.
When those thoughts returned, I challenged them. Is that negative thought about me really true, or is there some untruth in it? Would others who love me sacrifice so much for me if I am what those thoughts say I am? Coming to understand that not everything I think is necessarily true provided the necessary space to evaluate my thoughts.
It also helps to process negative thoughts with others if they become overwhelming or confusing. My wife and a handful of close friends have been a great support in helping me talk through personal issues.
Managing insecure thoughts is probably one of the hardest things for me especially during a breakout. Over the years of having psoriasis, I have spent a lot of time trying to remember to think positively about my disease. One way I cope with insecure thoughts is countering my insecure thoughts with more positive ones.
For example, if I am experiencing a breakout and I am getting ready to go out in front of people I may have thoughts like, “I hope people don’t stare at me because of my skin.” To counter this thought, I would tell myself, “If people stare you, it could very well be because they love my outfit.”
I often jump to conclusions about what people think about my skin, but I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself. Of course, I still struggle at times countering my negative thoughts with positive thoughts but with each day I try to get better at it.
Share your psoriasis story!
How do you manage insecurity and mental health when living with a visible condition like psoriasis? We want to hear your story.
Our collective voices have a huge impact, and we hope you will add your unique voice. The best part? Your journey living with psoriasis is all you need to get started!
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