Why Do I Have To Feel And Look Sick To Feel Validated?
Last updated: June 2023
I was diagnosed with severe plaque psoriasis almost ten years ago. The first few years were difficult as I came to terms with not only my physical health but my emotional health as well. After some trial and error with treatment options, alterations to my lifestyle and diet, and a lot of self-care, my outside parts began to improve.
My inside parts were a different story, and I still work very hard daily to keep some of them pieced together.
A dangerous way of thinking
When I was a little girl and fell off my bike or the monkey bars and scraped my knee, my dad would say, “You’re okay. You’re fine.” And so I would get back up, put a bandaid on it, and keep going. I don’t think I am alone in this kind of thinking.
This “I’m okay. I’m fine. Keep going” mentality. Sometimes it’s beneficial. I don’t let the little bumps in life trip me up. I keep moving. Other times, like when it comes to my physical or mental health, it can be a dangerous way of thinking.
Psoriasis has invisible symptoms too...
After the physical signs of my psoriatic disease began to clear, I began to wonder if it was all in my head in the first place. Only when the occasional spot would crop up on my skin or my scalp would be covered in scaly patches would I allow myself to feel validated in my disease.
A sad sigh of relief would wash over me, “You’re not a liar, Brittany. This is real.” Why do I need to get to a point where I am visibly ill to feel like my disease is legitimate? Why does it have to be visible to be validated?
What even is validation?
Marsha Linehan, a validation theorist, says that validation is “a process in which a listener communicates that a person’s thoughts and feelings are understandable and legitimate.”
She says, “if a patient with pain feels understood and validated, it will likely influence their emotional state and behaviors differently than if they perceive that others respond but do not understand them.” In other words, does the person feel validated and understood?
According to a study conducted in 2015, many people, including myself, with chronic conditions believe that others do not understand their pain or even consider their condition legitimate. It goes on to say that pain that is not recognized or validated by loved ones and healthcare professionals could increase psychological distress.
Make your voice a little louder and a little less shaky
While it would be lovely if we lived in a world where people were compassionate and concerned, we know that isn’t always the case. As people experiencing the symptoms of psoriasis, I think it’s important for us to make our voices a little louder and a little less shaky.
After all, we are not those little kids who fell off our bikes anymore, and it’s okay to say, “I am not okay,” and ask that someone listen.
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?