Would You Like Unsolicited Advice with That?

My last name actually means “petite” in French. I always get a laugh when I tell people that because I am anything but petite. I stand over 6 feet tall and weigh…well…over what the chart at my doctor’s office says I should weigh. Obesity is actually a related condition to psoriasis, but I can’t blame it all on my disease. I mean, I could blame it on just my disease, but then I would have to ask you to ignore my peanut butter M&Ms and potato chip habit (not together of course---but hey that doesn’t sound too bad! Ok, see what I mean?)

I know a lot of what I eat is bad for me. I have tried time and time again to eat healthier, but those bad eating habits are hard for me to break—I’ll admit it! Because of my choice to not work harder on shrinking my waistline, I have been the recipient of a lot of assumptions and, frankly, rude treatment.

Don’t eat that

The thing I hear more than anything is that if I didn’t eat ____, I wouldn’t have plaques. Boy do I wish it was that easy! I have been told to cut out everything from meat, dairy, and nightshades to gluten, alcohol, and sugar. I might as well just eat ice. I know there are proven inflammatory foods and avoiding most of these foods is not a bad idea, but axing them from my diet will never cure me. I already sacrifice so much because of this disease that the thought of limiting myself more is hard to come to terms with. It’s also hard not to think that if I was thin, others wouldn’t so blatantly suggest that what I was eating was the problem.

Overweight doesn’t mean lazy

The next assumption I face by having a chronic disease and being overweight is that I am lazy. I can’t count the times that I have heard well-meaning loved ones not understand why it is so hard to put on topical creams and lotions three times a day. If I was only putting those things on my hands or elbows, it wouldn’t take much effort. However, trying to cover 85% of my body (and a big body at that) three times a day is a huge burden that yields low results.

Another assumption along the same lines is that I must have done (or not done) something to cause me to have the disease in the first place. Those who don’t understand what a chronic disease is think that if I would just exercise more, or change my mindset, I wouldn’t have this “problem.” I think that people tend to do this because it eases their own fears. They think that as long as they do xyz, they can avoid a chronic illness. If they believe that only “lazy, unhealthy people” get diseases like psoriasis, then they can control/avoid developing a similar condition.

Doctors do it too

Unfortunately, I have also encountered similar assumptions from medical professionals. Around the same time I was diagnosed with psoriasis, I started to have horrible back pain. I was playing high school football then, so the assumption was that it was sciatica. As I aged and stopped playing team sports, the back pain continued. I went to my primary care provider about it, but I was told that if I just lost weight, the pain would go away. Finally, my dermatologist told me about psoriatic arthritis and referred me to a rheumatologist.

I wish that seeing the rheumatologist gave me some answers. But alas, I encountered more stereotyping from her as well. First, she thought I was too young to be seeing her. Secondly, she again referenced my weight and blamed that as the culprit without doing a workup for psoriatic arthritis. I left feeling frustrated and pretty bad about myself.

Bottom line: those with psoriasis have enough to feel self-conscious about. Most of us already have a hard time accepting our appearance regardless of weight. If we are overweight, you can bet that we are already either uncomfortable in our own skin or are trying to live healthier lifestyles. My hope is that more people will choose love and support over trying to fix us.

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