Being LGBTQ+ and Living with Psoriasis
When it comes to living with psoriasis, each of us has our own unique journey. From being diagnosed to our treatment choices, it all varies and some people are further along that journey than others.
June is Pride Month. A time to celebrate the LGBT+ community and remember where how far we’ve come towards equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Who you are shouldn’t really affect your psoriasis, but we know a key thing that can make a psoriasis flare worse and that is stress. And when you’re LGBTQ+, stress can manifest in many different ways.
The impact of stress on LGBTQ+ communities
As an LGBTQ+ person, the coming out process can be particularly stressful. You have to work out and navigate whether the spaces in which you are truly open. It's very delicate and even may cause damage to your mental health or overall well-being.
Even though we have come a long way since the decriminalization of homosexuality and even with the growing tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ+ communities, those who choose to come out to their friends, family, or even in their workplace remains a difficult road to tread.
They have to work out whether coming out could affect their relationships, job prospects, or even where they are living.
Coming out can alleviate stress
My decision to come out as gay was to protect my mental health and overall well-being. I decided it was much better to be open and to be truly myself regardless of the consequences. I came out as gay back at university, when I was studying for a master’s degree.
The stress that I removed myself from when I came out may have helped my psoriasis, but I still found myself having difficulty with being fully open to everyone, everywhere, such as when topics of conversation came up regarding a partner.
I think it’s this that has meant my psoriasis flares have worsened here and there. The plaques over the years have been quite red and angry. The combination of the stress of coming out along with having psoriasis has definitely taken a toll on my mental health.
Time is more important than you think
With time, I have noticed an improvement. I was going for my dermatology appointment at the hospital a few weeks ago and saw a man covered head-to-toe in psoriasis plaques. I could see how itchy and uncomfortable it must have been for him. He had it, what looked like, everywhere, and I felt so sorry for the man.
It took me back to when I suffered badly, and most of that was when I was struggling to come to terms with being gay. At one point, I must have been about 80 percent covered, with my stomach, thighs, and legs being among the worst areas affected.
My scalp psoriasis was also pretty bad, with thick, large plaques over the swathes of my head. My hairline had itchy, solid plaques too and it made things very difficult.
My experience is unique
Now I don’t know for sure that the coming out process and the stress of being gay definitely affects psoriasis because as I’ve said it’s different for everyone and I’m not an expert.
But what I do know is that coming to terms with my sexuality was a very difficult time and it’s likely that the period of distress aided in my plaques being red, itchy, and difficult to treat.
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