Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical expert (sorry mom and dad), so please do not use this article as a substitute for professional medical advice. What works for me may not work for everyone.
I’ve done a lot of scary things in my life before (well…to my little standards at least). I’ve studied for midterms the morning of the actual midterm date. I once spoke to a guy first and asked him to study with me. Hell, I even left the house once to go to the grocery store during quarantine! But nothing comes as close as putting my biggest insecurity out on the Internet for everyone to read and judge me on. Somehow, it still feels incredibly vulnerable and uncomfortably intimate to talk about this subject even when I know that there are probably millions of people around the world that are also affected by psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that happens as a result of an overactive immune system that speeds up skin cell growth at an alarming rate. While most people shed and replace skin cells monthly, people with psoriasis do so every three to four days which results in giant plaques of dry skin everywhere. It’s not ideal, but it’s really taught me some key lessons over the last few years that I think can be applicable to anyone, regardless if they have psoriasis or not.
1. Let it become a motivation to live a healthier lifestyle
After going through different dermatology visits and getting prescribed basically every steroid cream and foam out there, I decided to just stop. I didn’t want to be putting on five different creams all over my skin and slowly thin away my skin to nothing and I didn’t want to be taking additional pills that would result in fatigue and extreme weight loss.
I focused on healthier methods instead to combat this. I stopped eating a jumbo bag of Hot Cheetos for breakfast every day and replaced those with healthier options. I got into running and began to treat the gym like a sacred temple and I started sleeping at night. Within a few months, I saw the positive effects. I could see my forehead and giant plaques on my body began to disappear. I let my condition fuel me into making healthier choices because it basically acted as a physical indicator of whether I was living a healthier lifestyle or not.
2. Don’t let guilt take over
If I’m being honest, part of me felt really grateful for having psoriasis. I have a weak tolerance for most things, but this was something I knew I could learn to deal with positively. But that thought was immediately almost always followed by crippling guilt. There were people around the world suffering far worse, and I had the audacity to try to feel like my condition was something I had to “deal with” as well?
The truth is that everyone will have problems and obstacles they deal with in life, regardless of who they are. And just because someone is dealing with something bigger in the grand scheme of things does not mean that what I’m dealing with can’t bother me. I can be open-minded about the ugly things going on in the world and still simultaneously struggle with my own problems without factoring guilt into it.
3. It’s okay to admit that it’s not ideal
I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m happy with who I am as a person and am confident with how I look . However, that doesn’t mean that this doesn’t affect me negatively from time to time. It took me a while to learn that it’s okay to admit that sometimes I wish I could look in the mirror and not see my face covered in red and scaly patches of skin. It’s okay for me to wish that my hair wasn’t thinning so much because my scalp was covered with dead skin. And that, yes, I wish little kids did not run away screaming when they saw those scaly patches on my stomach.
I’m going to have those insecure moments every now and then, and that’s totally fine. Bottling up those insecurities and pretending they don’t exist is never a healthy way to deal with it, but actually dealing with it is. That means learning who I am as a person, and not as a person with psoriasis. As long as I pick myself up right after and love myself unconditionally, it’s okay to admit that sometimes it’s not an ideal situation.
4. Don’t live in fear
Dermatologists and the internet had told me that the chances of getting psoriatic arthritis and other cardiovascular diseases were higher because I had psoriasis. As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, it wasn’t fun to hear that. And for a long time, it made me restrict myself from doing or eating certain things in order to try to make my psoriasis temporarily disappear.
But it’s not healthy to live in the future to the point where I forget about living in the present. No one knows what the future will hold, but if I use that as a reason to stop living in the now then that becomes an issue.
It’s not easy dealing with an autoimmune disease, and it does impact the overall outlook on life. While I admit I’m in a privileged position to be able to say this, I do believe that it’s up to us to decide how that outlook will affect us, and if it will leave a positive or negative impact.