Mike B., psoriasis warrior and patient supporter shares his pearls of wisdom and lessons on how to manage living with psoriasis.
For me it started with an unexplained bump on the palm of my right hand. Not a big deal, but within the next few weeks one turned to many and soon both my palms were cracked, bleeding, and so itchy I could barely stand them. Then, it showed up on the soles of my feet, and soon my legs and arms. It still shocks me how quickly my life went from ‘normal’ to ‘nightmarish’, and how hard everyday tasks became. For one, walking hurt - a lot. So did using my mouse. And pushing a shopping cart or holding a steering wheel? Forget it. Everyone had advice for me: my mom suggested slathering my hands in petroleum jelly and wearing cotton gloves, a friend thought soaking in epsom salt would do the trick. I just wanted my body back and the more I stressed about it, the more it felt like everyone around me was judging. Looking back now, I doubt they were, but at the time I honestly wanted nothing more than to be normal again.
The apologizing began at the start of a job interview. At least, that’s the first time I remember calling attention to my hands and actively trying to prevent someone from touching them. “Sorry, my hands are gross,” I said, displaying my palm when he reached to shake it. He pulled back, and though I was the one who brought it up, it still felt like he’d judged me. Over and over again this happened - I’d positioned myself into a cycle of apologizing for my rough and scabbed hands, and fell into a place where not only did I feel I deserved the ‘rejections’, I started rejecting back. “If someone can’t accept my hands, they can’t have me,” I’d say to myself. Weirdly enough, it took that affirmation to get me to the place where I realized I needed help, and that perhaps the person who had rejected me the most through this whole experience - was me.
After receiving my psoriasis diagnosis, I started to search around for resources and understanding. It had been a couple of years since that first bump and though feelings of anger and frustration still bubbled up every time I experienced a flare, I didn’t want to live a life of self-isolation over something I didn’t bring onto myself. Turns out, not only was I not alone in my journey, but there were some psoriasis rock stars who spoke straight to my soul:
- Gene - Gene realized he needed to change his life when he stopped doing the things he loved. That’s when he took his psoriasis diagnosis and jumped into action, literally. Rather than focusing on what his psoriasis took from him, Gene turned to a life of adventure and showing others that psoriasis doesn’t have to hold you back.
- Alisha - Having lived with psoriasis for over two decades, Alisha knows a thing or two about the struggles of finding a treatment that works. More than that, Alisha found a purpose in becoming a mentor for others who are living with psoriasis and works toward helping others live healthier, more hope-filled lives.
- Aimee - Forget covering her spots, Aimee felt Pso Pretty in Pink, and wants to build a body-positivity platform that reminds other people that they are perfect in the skin they’re in.
Knowing others knew my experience helped, taking my medications helped, but living with psoriasis took a lot of inner work, too. One of the biggest first steps toward inner healing came from the Serenity Prayer - those words bring me back from the brink, sometimes daily: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve experienced some of the same pain and frustration I went through and no matter where you are on your journey, there are some things that help us all:
- Body positivity affirmations: “This is my body, it is the only body I have, and I will love it for the life it lets me live,” is the affirmation I say daily. Here are some others that remind me that our bodies are amazing and unique and truly beautiful.
- Stop apologizing: Trust me, your body isn’t in anyone’s way. Your psoriasis is not the big burden you imagine it to be.
- Join a community: “You can’t stay in the corner of the forest waiting on others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ~Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne) Need a community? The National Psoriasis Foundation is a great place to start.
- Find a treatment that works for you: And stick to it. Not because you need to fit in. Not because your psoriasis isn’t okay. But because taking care of your skin is a step toward loving your skin.
If you take nothing else from this, know you aren’t alone. We’re out here - others, just like you. We’re all on different journeys, but we’re walking the same road and when we step away from our corner of the forest, we’re likely to bump into each other. Accepting your skin is important, but so is treating it. If you’re looking for a non-prescription, pro-botanical treatment for your mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis, Prosoria might be exactly what you’ve been searching for. It’s easy to use, gentle, has received the NPF Seal of Recognition, and most people see results in as little as two to six weeks. Have questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a comment on their Facebook Page or Twitter.