During my seven years of psoriasis advocacy, I have had the pleasure of connecting with countless fellow psoriatic disease sufferers. I have come to the realization that many of us share something in common, and that is our struggle with anxiety.
Although our challenges are individualized and our anxiety manifests differently, I find that we can always relate to one another on this topic. Having had psoriatic symptoms since 2000 and being officially diagnosed in 2005, I have learned to identify what triggers my anxiety and how to manage it.
Following are some strategies that have helped me cope with anxiety during my journey with psoriasis.
At 21 years old, I found myself 80 percent covered in psoriasis plaques. I was angry, sad, embarrassed, and resentful. I felt that getting clear was the answer to all my problems. For five years, I fixated on why it happened to me. I lived my life on the sidelines.
One day, while sitting at home, I felt fed up. I decided it was time to accept myself, my chronic illness, and all that came along with it — both internally and externally. I now acknowledge my feelings and bad days, but I choose to push forward. I treat the negative feelings like a place I need to visit briefly, but I know I do not have to make a home there.
Our support systems can consist of friends, family, physicians, mental health professionals, co-workers, neighbors, or significant others. I find that clearly expressing my needs and struggles to those who support me helps make my life easier. When I am feeling overwhelmed, in pain, or in need of support, I let it be known.
It may feel uncomfortable to reach out for help, but it can make a world of difference. Although it is my responsibility alone to advocate for my health, it is also my responsibility to advocate for my needs among the members of my support system. How will anyone know how to help me unless I tell them what I need?
Not knowing what to expect gives me the most anxiety. When living with a chronic illness like psoriasis, there are many variables to consider — especially given the fact that we never know when we will flare next.
Before attending an event, seeking out the schedule, weather, activity level, duration, and food options can significantly ease feelings of anxiety. Having the proper attire, sufficient rest, and realistic expectations for the day’s plans will absolutely decrease the likelihood of discomfort and steer the focus toward enjoying the moment.
If you are living with chronic illness and pain, it can feel overwhelming to accomplish daily tasks. It’s easy to forget to take care of our basic needs in the name of productivity. Denying our minds and bodies the rest they require will undoubtedly lead to anxiety. So ditch the guilt, take a break, and do something you love. Taking the time to replenish ourselves is not selfish — we are simply setting ourselves up for success.
My Perspective articles discuss psoriasis from a specific point of view. My Perspective articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyPsoriasisTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. MyPsoriasisTeam content isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.