Psoriasis came in my life as an uninvited guest who I couldn’t get rid of no matter how hard I tried. Eventually, I became hostage to the thoughts in which psoriasis created in my mind. I learned early on what it means to make the best of an undesirable situation. At one point there wasn’t much I could do to change my psoriasis due to ineffective treatments. Reluctantly, I gained an alliance with psoriasis. I had it, it had me, and somehow I had to find a way to live with it in harmony. Psoriasis is typically associated with a lot of suffering, but as I reflect there is, in fact, a silver-lining to living with this complicated disease. Here are 6 things living with psoriasis has taught me, after you finish reading please share what your journey with the condition has taught you.
1. I am not alone in the struggle.
Growing up with psoriasis I felt isolated and alone. I found it hard to believe someone would have the ability to truly understand what I was trying to cope with. Once I found the strength to free my mind from the shame psoriasis produced in my life I was empowered to unbury the struggles of my life I kept hidden in my heart. To my surprise, I discovered I had friends, classmates, and co-workers who lived with psoriasis but shared the same fears as I did about revealing it to others.
2. I have a purpose bigger than myself.
I have to be frank, living with psoriasis sucks. Even with the abundance of advocacy work which brings an indescribable joy to my life, it’s still a struggle. Although I’ve found an effective treatment I am still within the grasp of psoriasis ruthlessness and unpredictable circumstances, and until a cure arrives myself and others will always be at the will of psoriasis no matter how good it may seem. Advocacy has allowed me to seize my life back from the grasp that psoriasis once had over my life. It’s given me a story with a purpose bigger than I could imagine. My life motto is, “I want to be the voice for the voiceless…” There are individuals living in silence with psoriasis in fear of what society will think of them, my goal is to create compassion among those the least understood by sharing my hardships without shame.
3. I am resilient.
I have lived with psoriasis since I was 7 years old. It took me 23 years to realize how strong I really have been through this journey of living with this condition. There were times I was rejected, discriminated against, and bullied for my disease but I fought through those painful situations. I was a 3rd grader forced with the responsibility of telling other kids AND adults about the patches of dry skin which invaded my body. Many times I failed, sometimes I succeed, but my ability to grab life by the horns and thrive makes me strong.
4. I can be loved despite my assumed flaws.
I grew up thinking I would never find love due to my autoimmune disease. I couldn’t fathom being physical with someone and allowing them to see the extent of my psoriasis covered body. I had more psoriasis than I did clear healthy skin. Well, I’ve dated, I’ve found love, and at one point I was even married. My ex never saw me for my psoriasis, never used it against me in a dispute, and was very supportive when it came to my disease.
5. My self-esteem isn’t dependent on the health of my skin.
I thought clear skin would be the key to unlock my high self-esteem. I’ve always struggled with feeling beautiful. I was under the assumption if my psoriasis would go away the low self-esteem would follow. Unfortunately, that proved to not be true. My psoriasis is gone from my skin due to an effective medicine and there are times I still struggle to love myself. It seems as though since the psoriasis is gone other flaws that I deem as inadequacies have surfaced. Luckily therapy is helping.
6. I dealt with anxiety and panic attacks.
Growing up I would encounter anxiety and panic attacks in situations which forced me to show my skin like at the pool or in P.E. The burden is I didn’t recognize my feeling as such thus it went undiagnosed and untreated. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s after finishing college and becoming more familiar with mental health challenges that I realized what I was combating.