By: Alisha Bridges
I was diagnosed with psoriasis in the early ’90s when it was hardly understood, and there was a limited amount of treatments for the disease. At that time, I was 7-years-old and 90% covered with itchy, dry, inflamed patches of plaque psoriasis. Not only did I deal with the insecurities of having a visible disease, but I also dealt with the stigma from those around me. Growing up with a visible condition like psoriasis was difficult and caused me to experience a variety of hurtful and shameful emotions.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, I was not alone in my experiences with the disease. Approximately 60 percent of people with psoriasis reported their disease to be a significant problem in their everyday life. Psoriasis severely impacted my quality of life, and I use to allow it to control my every move. Here are five emotions I have felt while living with psoriasis.
Helplessness: Psoriasis is an unpredictable disease, and everyone who has it is affected differently. There have been times when no matter what I did to soothe my condition, nothing seemed to work. In some instances, I felt hopeless and even stopped using my treatments due to the frustration of not seeing positive results of improved skin.
Insecurity: In a world full of beauty standards that require you to be flawless, it can be challenging to feel confident while living with a visible disease such as psoriasis. Frequently, I found myself daydreaming about a psoriasis free life, or I would compare myself to others without the disease. Sometimes I was so stifled by the effects of psoriasis it caused me to isolate due to embarrassment and not wanting to explain my disease.
Anger: “Why me” is a common question I use to ask myself when thinking about my disease. At times dealing with psoriasis made me feel disappointed with life. I also experienced feelings of resentment, which caused me to feel agitated and negative in instances where my psoriasis grabs the attention of others around me. In my mind, I just wanted to be “normal.”
Fear: It doesn’t matter if you have lived with psoriasis for a long or short time; you fear the future. It doesn’t matter how strong and confident you become with this disease; you will have moments of concern. Moments, where you think about, will the psoriasis spread, side effects, cost of medicine, treatment failure, or rude comments from strangers. No matter how deep I am in my advocacy for psoriasis, I always experience these fears.
Shame: Due to the flaky, inflamed appearance of psoriasis, there were moments where I have felt feelings of humiliation and distress. The negative emotions could have been due to a rude comment from someone, or due to my insecurity. No matter the reason, this shame caused me to feel self-conscious and unsure of myself.
Having psoriasis made me feel alone. It felt as though no one around me could understand what I was going through, which caused me to hide that part of myself from the world; however, once I found support, these feelings changed. I stumbled upon my first online psoriasis support group in 2011, and it changed my life. I went from being the only person I knew with psoriasis, to connecting with thousands of others who were also dealing with the disease. Online support groups such as 7Chairs are essential to the community because it provides hope and connection. Support groups offer the following:
Connection with those who understand:
No matter how much support a psoriasis-less friend or family member gives, there is no support more special than the help from a person living with the disease. Support groups are an outlet that allows you to show your authentic self without being judged.
A place to vent: Get it off your chest! Support groups are great places to share your deepest darkest fears about living with this disease without feeling ashamed about it.
A place for emotional support: If it’s a crying shoulder you are looking for, or insecurity you need peace with, support groups offer emotional support by others living with the disease.
A place to hear encouraging stories of hope: When it comes to psoriasis, everyone is at a different level with how they cope with the disease. It can be encouraging to hear others share their struggles and triumphs with the disease.
A place to feel safe: Psoriasis is a disease that causes compassion among those who are suffering from it. Support groups are safe to connect with others.
A place to see what works: There are so many suggestions on the market for psoriasis sometimes can be hard to figure out what products are legitimate. Support groups allow people to share remedies, treatment success stories, and failures in a safe online space.
7Chairs have several online weekly support groups that discuss psoriasis resilience tools, feeling empowered, and dealing with the emotional impact of the condition. So far, I have attended a few of the online sessions, and they have been very impactful. What’s different about the 7Chairs online platform compared to others is it gives you the ability to chat live, in real-time, with people living with psoriasis. Find and sign up for a group through 7Chairs that is right for you.