How I cope with the emotional impact of psoriasis

I know living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be tough. Although I am in good control on immunosuppression and chemotherapy, I went undiagnosed for 23 years.

Part of me is glad I was not diagnosed right away. If I had known what was really going on in my body, I may have experienced these emotional side effects sooner. In that case, ignorance was bliss.

But part of me wishes I had been diagnosed earlier, because I could have started treating. Anyway, there is nothing I can do to change that now, and that is exactly the attitude I brought to my diagnosis. There were definitely times when I felt these four emotional side effects:

  1. Shame
  2. Fear
  3. Self-loathing
  4. Self-pity

It started with shame. I did not like the way my skin looked or the way I was having difficulty moving. Then, I moved on to fear. I worried how others would perceive my spots and difficulty moving. From there, I experienced self-loathing, feeling disgusted with my body and all the problems it was having. Lastly, I coasted into self-pity, feeling no one understood me or what I was going through and wanting to cry out, “Why me?”

Believe it, or not, coping with these emotional side effects is more up to you than up to your doctor. These are my favorite ways of coping:

Meditation

I was never a meditator. When my holistic health coach suggested I begin, I did not know what I was doing! Thank goodness for free apps like Headspace and Buddhify. With Headspace’s 10 in 10, I learned how to meditate. With Buddhify, I can choose guided meditations for nearly every situation. When I am done, I feel more peaceful.

Aromatherapy

I have always loved the aroma of lavender. This year, I decided to invest in a variety of other oils and diffusers for my home and for travel. By changing the atmosphere of a room this way, it helps pull my focus to my other senses and gives me something new to enjoy. I also find it very relaxing.

Gentle hatha yoga

I started my yoga practice after my dual diagnosis of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. I have found some videos that suit my body and its limitations. By concentrating on the asanas, I tend to forget about my troubles. When I force my body to work, stretch and relax into my breathing, my mental state automatically relaxes as well.

Thinking of others

I am sure your mother encouraged this at the dinner table. “There are starving children in the world. Eat what is on your plate.” But, think of it this way. Getting out and volunteering for others less fortunate really helps take my mind off my own troubles.

And I’ll share my dirty little secret with you. When I feel really bad, I look up photos of psoriasis on the internet…the really intense ones. This reminds me that things could always be worse, to be thankful for my own diseases and to pray for others who would be happy to have my spots instead.

None of these coping methods come on a prescription pad. Still, if you are feeling hopeless and cannot seem to come around to your old self, do have an honest conversation with your doctor.

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