March 22, 2023
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Welcome to Ask Joni, an advice column by Joni Kazantzis, the community guide for Bezzy Psoriasis. Joni has lived with psoriasis for over 25 years and is passionate about sharing what she has learned with others. In her column, Joni answers questions sourced directly from community members. To have your questions answered, join one of Joni’s nightly live discussions.
Living with psoriasis is exhausting! A psoriasis diagnosis is hard, and it hurts — physically and mentally.
Each day we are faced with almost nonstop decisions about what to eat, what to do, whether to exercise, what to wear, and even when to go to sleep and wake up. How many of those decisions impact your psoriasis or are made because of your psoriasis? It can affect everything in your life.
It seems like it will always be on your mind, but you can learn to move forward and coexist with your psoriasis.
Acknowledgment of your psoriasis diagnosis doesn’t mean you love it. It just means that you’re accepting the truth that it’s your reality.
Accepting the diagnosis doesn’t happen all at once, and there’s no one path to get there.
There will also be days when you feel angry or frustrated that this is happening to you and wonder why. There will likely be times when your physical symptoms are too much to bear, and it weighs on you mentally and emotionally. And that’s OK.
Understanding your diagnosis and what psoriasis is can be incredibly powerful for you.
The more you know about psoriasis and your own psoriasis, the more empowered you become. There is a lot to learn, including identifying triggers, understanding diet and nutrition, exploring possible comorbidities, and researching available treatment options. And even more!
While psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes symptoms on the skin, it is not just a skin disease. It’s also different for everyone, meaning symptoms present differently, different things trigger a flare, and different treatments can help manage symptoms.
Focus on what triggers your flares and what makes them worse. Is it certain foods or different stress levels? Do you drink alcohol or smoke? Are you just getting over an illness or skin injury? What’s the weather like where you live? These are all things that can trigger a flare, but again they are different for everyone with psoriasis.
When you know what brings about and irritates your psoriasis, it can help you manage your symptoms better.
*But only in certain ways!
When you find what works for you, keep doing it.
When you find clothing that keeps you comfortable, keep wearing it. When you find skin or beauty products that don’t irritate your skin, keep using them.
Does warm water in the shower feel better than hot? Do oils or creams feel better on your skin? Keep track of what makes you feel better.
Do you feel better or worse after vigorous exercise? Does eating anti-inflammatory foods help reduce redness and itching? Does journaling or meditation help manage your stress levels, which in turn helps reduce your psoriasis symptoms?
Develop habits and routines that work to help manage your psoriasis — physically and mentally — and stick with them. Consistency helps control your symptoms and can keep them from getting worse.
Some days will be better than others, but a positive mindset will continuously help build your confidence.
Psoriasis is only a part of who you are, it doesn’t define you. Spend time with yourself and focus on all the wonderful things about you that aren’t psoriasis.
There may be situations where people will say or do something that will test your confidence, but remember that you can’t control others. Criticism and negativity about your body from anyone (including yourself) can be challenging to bounce back from.
You owe it to yourself to acknowledge the feelings that the comments (or stares) bring on, instead of ignoring them. Give yourself a chance to process them — and then move on. When people make you feel bad about yourself, it’s due to their own ignorance or pain.
If you’ll be in a situation where you’re concerned about your psoriasis being the headliner, plan for how you’ll discuss it or what you’ll do if you’re uncomfortable.
Prepare what you want to say if someone says something or asks about it. Questions are a great chance to educate people about what it is and give you a chance to minimize its importance. “Oh, it’s just psoriasis.”
Rude comments deserve a direct comeback, like “Why do you think it’s OK to say that to me?”
There are usually stares when I bare my psoriasis, but my dad always told me to just smile and wave. People get embarrassed when they’re caught staring and will naturally turn away or awkwardly smile and wave back. In my experience, it works every time!
It’s OK after those interactions to take some space from the situation. Go outside for a walk or excuse yourself to find your emotionally safe person who will be there with you or whom you can message or call.
If there are people in your life who constantly speak negatively about your psoriasis, talk with them about it directly. Let them know how it affects you and ask them not to make comments anymore. Set boundaries, so they know you won’t allow them to treat you like that.
Psoriasis can make you feel isolated and alone. Find and connect with others who also live with psoriasis. Or identify someone in your life that you feel comfortable with when sharing all the aspects of living with psoriasis.
Surround yourself with positive messages and people who make you feel good. Seek out communities, like Bezzy, with messages and support that align with those positive messages. You deserve to feel safe about where and with whom you spend your time.
Communities empower us to share our stories about how we feel and how they’ve shaped us. Talking about your experience will help others and make others feel less alone.
Though psoriasis is such a physical disease, the mental aspects can be the hardest. There will be days when you feel like you’ve finally accepted it, but others where it feels like you’re starting over.
Keeping a journal of your feelings will help you let your thoughts flow. It doesn’t have to be a physical book, it can be as easy as a note on your phone.
It’s a great resource to keep track of those negative feelings, but you should also keep track of the incredible parts of you, and the good things that you’re doing for yourself.
With some understanding and compassion for yourself, you can learn to coexist with your psoriasis.
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