Having psoriasis can have a major psychological impact on a person and bring a mixture of emotions to your life. Psoriasis can make you feel very low at times as well as embarrassed, angry and frustrated. It can also make you very self-conscious, depressed and feel socially unaccepted.
My name is Damini, I’ve had psoriasis for 14 years and I have been blogging my journey and on-going experience with psoriasis. I had a tough battle with psoriasis, which drastically impacted my behaviour. One of the main ways that helped me deal with the emotional stress of living with psoriasis was accepting it and openly talking about it.
Psoriasis can lock me into this vicious cycle where stress will trigger a flare-up, which then causes me to be emotionally stressed about my condition and that aggravates the condition even more. However, it wasn’t until my recent flare-up that it really hit me psychologically and my confidence levels dropped, making me feel very low and depressed.
So here are some of my top tips on how I dealt with the emotional stress:
Talk to someoneWhether it is a friend, family or a GP. It doesn’t even have to be someone you know - you may find it easier speaking out to someone you don’t know personally. Speaking out and building that emotional support network has definitely helped me. I bottled up my feelings for a very long time and that does nothing but adds stress to the situation. As soon as I opened up, I instantly felt a million times better!
Remember: It’s perfectly normal to feel the way you areIt’s perfectly normal to feel how you’re feeling. I kept how I was feeling about my condition to myself, because I thought that worrying about a skin condition was just silly and that no one would understand. But I’ve realised that it is normal and you are allowed to feel upset, embarrassed, frustrated or however psoriasis makes you feel. And sometimes it can actually be good to let those feelings out of your system.
Be positiveThink positive. This leads on from my last top tip. Though you’ve let out your frustration and anger, don’t beat yourself up over it. Accept your psoriasis. It is hard to do, but once you’ve accepted it, everything just gets easier. After I accepted my psoriasis, dealing with the psychological and emotional side got easier and that’s when my confidence started building up again.
Don’t focus on the stares and negativitySomeone once told me that instead of focusing on the people that do stare at you, focus on those that don’t stare at you, and you’ll notice there are actually a lot more people who don’t take any notice. Remember, your psoriasis will look a lot worse in your eyes than it actually does in reality.
Dress yourself upWhy not attract the attention elsewhere? As a psoriasis sufferer, I know that one of the main difficulties is trying to cover up. So if I have a flare-up on my neck, I’ll dress myself up with a neck scarf or a necklace. Not because I want to cover it up, but just because it makes me feel better on the inside.
Distract yourselfDistracting yourself helps you to forget your psoriasis for a little while. Do the things that you love doing and be with the people that make you feel happy. My family and close friends were amazing during the time of my outbreak. Plus, it is always comforting knowing you’re accepted for whom you are and that you’re not being judged.
Don’t let your psoriasis stop youI can admit it’s very easy to shut yourself away and say no to everyone making plans or asking to meet up. To some extent, I let my psoriasis control and dictate my life. I avoided social gatherings when I could because I was too embarrassed. Staying over at someone's house I would hate, because I would have to take and apply my creams. I wouldn’t go swimming for so many years. I have spent summers not enjoying the weather and just wanting to cover up. But then I just got to a point where I thought enough was enough - I wasn’t going to let psoriasis take over. You can’t live your life holding back and hiding away.
I just want to end this post by saying embrace your skin and your scars, and be proud of who you are. And even though I openly talk about my psoriasis online, that doesn't mean I don’t struggle with my psoriasis emotionally. I still have my insecure moments, but I have just found ways to deal with the emotional side of having psoriasis in a better way.
UK/IE 2013b/00118a. Date of Prep: March 2016