Psoriasis & My Mental Health
Last updated: September 2021
Being a patient advocate, I have had the opportunity and privilege to connect with other advocates, doctors, and treatment representatives. Throughout these experiences, I have consistently been asked "What else can dermatologists or rheumatologists do to help you on your psoriatic journey?"
The struggle is real and the struggle is bad
One important response, and in my opinion, what needs to be made a priority, is the connection between psoriatic disease and mental health. If doctors asked about the quality of life, made therapist referrals, sat and talked through medication options - it would not only validate the person but improve the doctor-patient relationship.
The struggle is real and the struggle is bad. When I was first diagnosed, I found support in google. First, I saw that I have a life-changing and life-long condition. Second, I clicked the tab for image search. I would highly recommend you don’t do this.
There are pictures you cannot unsee. My psoriasis wasn’t that bad yet. This felt like I was looking into the future. Is this what I'm going to look like in a few months? I cried. I questioned everything. It was horrible.
When the dark thoughts creep in
As time went on, I had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flares on and off, sometimes they were tolerable, sometimes they were really bad. I can recall one time it was so bad, I couldn’t really move my hands or my palms would crack. I had to ask for help cutting my food. I couldn’t hold a knife and spoon very well. It was even hard to use a fork but I was determined to feed myself.
I mean, I was in my forties. Days later, still in that flare, I was unable to sleep. I was having thoughts of cutting my hands off to relieve the pain. Yes, when part of you is in that kind of pain, it’s horrendous.
Imagine holding your hands (or any other part of you) above a fire until it burns, now hold still, stay there for about 2 weeks while this flare dies down.
Be kind to yourself and others
Do you think you could sleep, eat, or even wipe your butt while your hands are cracked, bloody, and on fire? I am sure that if you have psoriasis, then you probably understand this quite well. If you don’t, I am sure you learned something today, something you probably would rather not, but yet will help you if you are a caregiver to someone with this horrible condition.
As I said earlier, the struggle is real. If you are having these thoughts, please see a doctor. Get a referral. If you are a caregiver, please check and see if the person you are looking after may need to see another doctor.
You just may save their life.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?