Monday, 4 June 2018

Psoriasis: Why I'm Letting Go

Here it is. After 4 years, my new plan for healing psoriasis, which is basically to forget I have it. Curious how this might work? Read on for more. 

It's no secret that I've been suffering with skin psoriasis for a little over 25 years now. 

25 years. 

It's a long time. 

And there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. 

I'm at that point.

When you have a chronic illness, it kind of takes over your life, even if you have the best intentions to heal and get well. 

To start with, about 5 years ago, I drastically changed my diet. I don't regret it, by the way - I enjoy a quality of life now that I never had in my 20s and 30s because of diet and lifestyle changes. But there are other things.

I go to bed early. I gave up alcohol. 

I spent hundreds, probably even thousands - during those two and a half decades - on lotions, shampoos, supplements, prescriptions, green powders and 'superfoods' that all promised to keep the itching at bay and clear up the red, inflamed patches. They never worked. I rubbed in stronger and stronger steroid lotions into my scalp for 20 years. And they say they're not for long periods of use. But I was prescribed them, month after month.

I realised very recently that the precious time I have with my husband is spent discussing updates on the latest trendy new thing that I've bought to try to get rid of my scaly skin. Asking him to look at the back of my scalp to see if it's improving. Dreading going to the hairdressers. Taking too long to decide what to wear each day because people might see the fallen flakes on my shoulders if I wear dark clothes or get my neck or shoulders tanned in the sun. And sitting at the school play, stressing about the person behind me because they surely can see my psoriasis, instead of me just focusing on what my kids are doing up there, singing their hearts out.

Now don't get me wrong. The single best change - and the one that cleared over 90% of my psoriasis patches completely - was diet and lifestyle. The patch on my scalp has remained, although is MUCH less severe than it was. It's probably the best it's ever been now, but it's still there. It still itches and, from time to time, it still burns.

When diet cleared the rest up, but not the bit on my scalp, I came to the conclusion that maybe this patch wasn't diet related. So I focused on my mind. A challenging childhood meant that I didn't ever know how to relax, so I've grown up with my mind in a permanent state of panic. I went to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which dealt with my anxiety and taught me how to relax and rationalise my thoughts for the first time. But my psoriasis was still there. I meditate. I take time out for myself. I'm the calmest I've ever been. Have been for months. And the psoriasis patch is still there. 

I read reviews online from excited people who cleared all their psoriasis within weeks by eating yoghurt/giving up dairy/washing with coal tar shampoo/sitting in the sunshine/veganism/vegetarianism/paleo/eating porridge. And I've tried it all. And it hasn't happened to me. 

People kind of just shrug and say 'Oh, psoriasis is a skin condition,' like it's a blackhead. 

But I've allowed this disease to make me feel embarrassed, self conscious and depressed, for 25 years. Thinking, talking and researching about psoriasis has taken up so much of my life, and has dictated the things I do or do not do socially.

For all I know, the constant checking for healing - the constant search to find something that will work - could be the stress that's fuelling the scalp psoriasis I still have. 

So I'm letting go. 


Photo by Cezanne Ali on Unsplash

I will always answer questions about my psoriasis. Sometimes I get private messages on social media asking what worked for me. I'm not abandoning it completely (I am still going to be looking after myself and my overall health) and I'm thrilled and grateful that I've managed to heal most of it naturally and am at the place I am.

I want to find other things to talk about and instead spend my money on holidays and day trips making memories with my kids and not on the next 'miracle' cure. 

My psoriasis plan from now on is simple: eat healthy and look after myself. Try not to get angry or upset about things. Keep my stress levels down. Have some days off. I'm seeing a really brilliant chiropractor to help with some issues, and it looks like that might even help my skin too. Apart from that, I'm using moisturiser on my scalp - and sunlight when Mother Nature makes it available. 

But there will be no more frantic Googling. No more conversations about it at home. No shopping until late night, spending money I don't have on supplements or shampoos. No more eagerly rushing to the mirror each day to see how it's doing. And if I want to wear the black t-shirt, I'm going to flipping well wear it.

I'm hopeful that one day it will clear up. I've tried a lot of things over the past 25 years. And so now I'm trying this. 

Letting go. 

I'll let you know how it goes. 

PS: It's worth mentioning that I have been 5 years off prescription medication for my psoriasis and it is now quite mild in severity. I would definitely not advise stopping any medication for any illness you've been prescribed. Always talk to your doctor about that. When I talk about 'letting go' I mean the emotional side of the illness. Finding fun, laughing and getting the most out of life. Just needed to clarify this.

Have you suffered with psoriasis? Have you ever tried letting go? Let me know what you think in the comments. 



10 comments:

  1. I'm right there with you, Jo. The bit of inflammation I felt creeping back on my scalp I now know is a postpartum flare. So, yes, it's there. It's one of those "I'm just not that into you" sort of things. I have more important things to focus my time and energy on, while still taking care of myself and eating foods I know work for me. But not obsessing. Solidarity. <3

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  2. Cheers to you! What a fantastic idea - I think I’ll join you!

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  3. I love this new mindset! I hope you will find peace and joy in every day without the constant concern about your skin. Enjoy every moment!

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    1. Thank you, Char! Even if it doesn't make any difference to my skin, it will make me feel better about my life, so it's good :)

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  4. Great post - sometimes it's just nice to step back and give your brain a rest and focus on other (more pleasant) things xx Lowen @ livingpositivelywithdisability.com

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    1. Thanks Lowen! Yes, definitely giving my brain a rest :)

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  5. Lovely to read this - it's not been 25 years for me, but I still find that my my rheumatic/inflamed/thyroidy thoughts are almost constant and all-consuming. I beg and pray, I let go, I make a resolution to not think about, I Google feverishly searching for answers. The "noise" in my mind and noise in my inflamed feet are definitely connected. My neighbor said it best after years of Hashi's and Raynaud's - there comes a point where you've done everything you can for yourself. And it's time to acknowledge that and just live your life. I appreciate your reminder and will be thinking of you! 👍

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    1. Thanks Morgan, yes, I agree! I've really done everything I can so it's time for me to let go. I think you've summed it up perfectly! Thank you for your kind words.

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