My Worst Psoriasis Symptom
The physical symptoms of plaque psoriasis are undoubtedly horrible. If you have the disease, I need not say any more. If you don’t have the disease, imagine chapped lips, but all over your body. Every time you move you make the cracks worse. Pain, bleeding, itching, flaking… It’s a buffet of uncomfortableness.
But if I am going to be honest (which I might be to a fault), these symptoms pale in comparison to the Evil Overlord of psoriasis symptoms: diminished self-confidence. You may be thinking, “Hey now, not everyone has self-confidence issues!” You may be right, but my experience is that everyone I know of has gone through a stage in their disease where their self-image is challenged by this visibly evident disease.
My Breaking Point
In 2011, I let psoriasis creep into my brain. It all started with one negative encounter. My wife was pregnant with our first child. I was excited, but scared. How was I supposed to be a role model for a son when I didn’t like who I was? I kept these feelings buried most of the time. Whenever anyone stared or made disgusted comments about my skin, I would use humor to try and alleviate the situation.
Then, one day we went to visit a family member. As soon as we got there I noticed sheets covering the furniture. I tried to tell myself I was crazy to think those sheets were put down for me. Unfortunately, my self-conscious suspicions were correct. Like a dog that sheds too much, I had to be guarded against the fine furniture. Scales would be found in the couch for days and require hours of vacuuming without a protective cover.
I tried to ignore the situation, but it only escalated from there. I was then accused of being lazy for not treating my skin. Didn’t I know there were treatments out there? Didn’t I realize how selfish I was being for not doing something about those horrible lesions? Wasn’t I aware that my unborn child would be ostracized in school because other parents wouldn’t want their kids around me?
My wife and I left embarrassed, angry, and in tears. She tried to reassure me the whole way home that the words that just slashed through me were not true, but they had already latched themselves on and reinforced all the other hurtful words I had heard about my skin since I was a teenager. Of course, I didn’t want my 8-month-pregant wife to worry, so I shrugged it off and told her it was ok.
It wasn’t OK
A month went by and my son was born. It was without a doubt the most amazing day of my life. I can’t even describe the emotions. It’s something only someone who watches their child enter the world can understand. I was happy, really really happy, for about 2 weeks. Then, without warning, the thoughts started to suffocate me. “I’m not good enough”; “They deserve better”; “I don’t want to drag them down with me”, followed by more and more.
I let all those things people said about my skin invade my brain and define who I was. This set off a series of events that lead to a year of utter misery. I floundered money on an addiction, lost my job, and eventually ended up leaving my young family for over three months. I did anything to try and make myself feel in control. I couldn’t control what my skin did, but I could numb myself to the point where I didn’t care.
Renewing of My Mind
I am happy that I can sit here now, five years later, and say that I didn’t stay in that place. With the help of a few loving and genuine people, I was able to get my life back. The hardest part was changing my mindset. I had to accept that I was worthy of love. I wasn’t deserving of love only when my skin looked the way I thought it should. Appearance has nothing to do with my value.
It was only after really healing my mind that I was able to be strong for myself and my family. I am happy to announce that my wife and I celebrated ten years of marriage this year. Rebuilding was tough, but it was worth every drop of sweat. If I hadn’t treated what I feel to be the worst symptoms of psoriasis, my self-confidence, being clear wouldn’t have really meant much. I enjoy the physical relief I experience now that I am treating my skin symptoms, but it is the renewing of my mind that has been the greatest liberation. My psoriasis may ravage my body, but I won’t let it near my mind.