Speak Clearly: Perspectives on psoriasis
The pressure and the desire to look perfect can really weigh people down. For some, it can feel like every thought revolves around your appearance. For people with serious skin conditions, like psoriasis, experience this on a whole other level. Even though we know that every imperfection on those “perfect” bodies was retouched by a computer before the pictures were published, the feeling that you aren’t good enough continues to grow inside of you with every flare. It’s not even that you don’t feel beautiful—you feel inadequate.
The Vicious Cycle of Stress and Skin
For people who suffer from serious skin conditions, daily stressors can cause a flare-up.1 Unlike other conditions, the symptoms of your disease are visible on your skin, and it can lead to negative feelings from others – starring, strange looks, unwanted questions – as well as from within yourself – shame, embarrassment. Unfortunately, many feel that they just have to learn to deal with it.
I’ve personally experienced this vicious cycle: whenever I was tense, stressed or nervous, it had a direct effect on my skin, impacting my self-esteem and emotions, causing more stress. During flares, I isolated myself as much as possible as a psychological defense mechanism. I was drowning in self-pity. Ashamed of my skin, I constantly had the feeling that I didn’t belong. The worst part was the feeling of helplessness. Although I was constantly in close contact with various doctors who were working to help me find the best care possible, I felt all alone with my illness.
The Importance of Psychological Care
From my experience, I can say that beyond working with your physician to find the best care for your skin symptoms, it is incredibly important to get support with your mental health as well. Now, there are even specialists working in this field to help people with serious skin conditions, called psychodermatologists. During psychodermatology treatment, people living with skin conditions learn to understand the connection between physical and psychological symptoms, helping them to accept their diagnosis and understand it doesn’t define them, so they can feel free in their own skin again.
Therapy can’t solve everything, but it can provide you with an opportunity to recognize the importance of your mental health as it relates to your skin and better integrate it better into your everyday life. Providing self-care through working on mental health can help patients cope with their disease and answer questions like: How do I learn to love myself? How do I meet other people? How can I take action with my disease? How can I get back to living my life feeling free from my disease?
For me, the key to success was a combination of the right management plan and psychological support, which taught me to accept myself as I am. As a result, I finally no longer felt alone or held back by my skin.
The road to feeling healthy both physically and mentally was rocky and painful for me—it took me more than 40 years to find the path that worked best for me. Today, I focus my energy on passing on my knowledge, hope and experience to other affected people on my website. I’m convinced that you too can find your own personal path to your feel-good skin! For a personalized resource to start these conversations, see here.
- National Psoriasis Foundation. Causes & Triggers. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/causes/. August 28, 2020.
Get clear with your doctor
You deserve to feel confident in your skin, but how do you have a clear conversation about your psoriasis goals with your doctor? Sometimes speaking up can be the hardest part.
Your voice makes a difference
Be clear about your goals. The power to speak up, feel confident and demand the best care is within you. Sharing your story could be your next step to feeling free from psoriasis—and possibly inspire others to do the same.