Three Things I Don't Want From You If You Don't Have Psoriasis
Last updated: April 2020
I'll let you into a little secret. I used to feel bad when people gave me unsolicited advice about my psoriasis. After all, they were only trying to help, right?
Responses to unsolicited psoriasis advice
Sometimes there are friends who don't have psoriasis that attempt to offer advice. I came to the conclusion there are three things I would say to this (un)helpful friend who was trying to help if I lost the ability to self edit my voice.
I don't want your moisturizer recommendations
This is going to sound ranty (because perhaps it is) but these are my honest confessions of the thoughts that run through my head when you tell me to try the moisturizer your mom read about in the newspaper.
I am startled that you think I haven't investigated multiple moisturizers and emollients. I can assure you that the overpriced designer lotion you're using has no ingredient in it that will be more beneficial to my skin than the products I have already tried. I am offended that you think I haven't tried to moisturize my skin.
Why this frustrates me: I am frustrated that you have started a conversation about my skin, which you think needs help when I have confidently or courageously (depending on the day) left the house with my psoriasis on show.
I don't know how to get you to stop talking about this without making things awkward, but my smiling and nodding and saying "yes I might try that" doesn't mean that sentiment at all. I'm looking for a conversational escape pod, and fast track through the social niceties to the place I want to be.
Please don't tell me to go vegan
You can replace the word vegan with gluten-free/nightshade-free or to yoga if you prefer. My point here is that sometimes people oversimplify my psoriasis, and it drives me crazy. Yes, but my psoriasis is stress triggered. My psoriasis is also food triggered and infection triggered, and I swear that it's also seasonally triggered and dislikes queues.
Going to yoga will help my stress, eating more veggies on a vegan diet may help alleviate inflammation and yes, I get that gut health is a critical component in the war against internal inflammation. Each of these things alone will not "cure" me. They will help alleviate symptoms if I embrace them in a way that works with my body's chemistry and my mental health status.
Why this frustrates me: You telling me I should do these things makes me feel guilty. Like psoriasis is my fault because I haven't made all of these choices. If I'm honest, I make conscious choices that make my psoriasis worse all of the time, because I want too! I hear you squirm in your chair a little there.
Sometimes it's kinder to let your hair down. Red wine makes me itch, but I love it. So I accept that indulging in half a bottle once a week will make my skin worse. I made with that over the last 30 years. It's my choice. Life is for living.
Don't tell me to take high dose vitamin D
Unless your a qualified nutritionist, who has spent at least 70 minutes going through my full medical history, you should not be telling me what supplements to take. Why? Because you don't know as much as you think you do. I'm happy that taking high dose vitamin D3 helped your friend clear their psoriasis, they were deficient in Vitamin D. Me? I'm not.
I took a blood test and the hospital called me to make sure I wasn't taking supplements. Unlike water-soluble vitamins that your body gets rid of, vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in your body. I was at the top end of the spectrum and I still had psoriasis.
Why this frustrates me: Just because supplements are sold in a health food shop, doesn't make them healthy for everyone. You can overdose and you can induce toxicity. Supplements should also be used as a band-aid, to help support the body while you make dietary changes to get the nutrients naturally. They shouldn't be used as a long term strategy.
So, how can you support me as I live with psoriasis?
I want you to listen to me without feeling like I need to be fixed. I am not broken, but I am struggling from time to time with the psychological and physical burdens of living with a chronic condition that is visible on the surface of my skin.
I need you to nod along, to hug me, to tell me you understand. When necessary, please call me out and force me to go out for coffee. Especially if I start to show signs of isolating myself or the encroaching symptoms of depression.
And if you have found the most incredible moisturizer on earth? Tell me how much you love the product just like you would if you were talking to anyone else - and let me decide if I'm sold enough to try it on my skin.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?