Welcome to Faces of Bezzy, a series spotlighting members of the Bezzy community. There’s nothing like hearing and learning from others who’ve walked in your shoes. Chat with other community members, learn something new, or maybe even make a lifelong friend.
I was diagnosed in 2020. Looking back, I started noticing symptoms for about a year before then.
I had dry patches on the inside of my legs, and I had an actual flare on my elbow. I thought it was just a bump or a bruise. You don’t really see the back of your elbow much, so I ignored it for a long time.
Finally, it started spreading on my forearms and face. It was clear that there was something wrong, and I was really scared at first because my mom had recently passed away from breast cancer. I wasn’t sure if I had some sort of cancer.
At that point, I didn’t know what it was, and I was really afraid. I did what I think a lot of people do when you have an illness but don’t know what it is — ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.
I spent a lot of time hoping that it would go away. Eventually, I saw a dermatologist who confirmed it was psoriasis.
I wake up at around 5:30 a.m. and take about an hour to get ready for the day. I eat breakfast and take care of all the indoor and outdoor cat stuff. At this time, the cats are already waiting for me, so I have to clean all their stuff and feed them.
Then I get dressed and go to work from 7 a.m. to about 3 p.m. I work for the post office delivering mail, which is challenging with psoriasis.
Usually, I have some activities that I’m involved in after work. If I’m in a theater production, I’m learning lines or getting ready for rehearsal.
I also try to work out on a regular basis. I’ll exercise after work and meal prep for the next day.
I feel like I’m always cooking. Food is one of my biggest challenges with psoriasis because it’s time consuming to prepare healthy food that I can eat. If I go to a restaurant, even “healthy food” might be loaded with sodium or something else that could cause a bad reaction.
When you’re actually in a flare, the stares and the unsolicited medical advice you receive are difficult. There was a point when about 25% of my body was covered with psoriasis. I had to learn how to deal with that.
It’s a little difficult. There was a point when I was on Bezzy, and there was a guest speaker who encouraged us not to hide our flares and instead leave them visible for people to see. I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to do that.”
But I learned there’s something important about it. Even beyond your psychological well-being, letting the air get to your flare just feels so much better. It feels better to not have to cover it up all the time and let it be hot and sweaty.
I started to wear short sleeves to work, and you could see it. Some people didn’t care, and some people gave me weird looks. Some people would look at me like I was in pain and that they didn’t like what they were seeing.
Sometimes, they would give me advice and tell me I should talk to their doctor. When this happened, I would say, “I have a doctor,” but then sometimes they’d insist and say, “I’ll give you my doctor’s phone number.” I’d respond, “OK, I’ll give you my doctor’s phone number.” I try to approach it with some amount of humor but also a little bit of pushback.
I guess I just learned how to deal with it, and over time, people became more comfortable with it. And when that happened, the flaring went away. I think accepting myself and letting oxygen get to my sores helped.
It’s not easy. When I’m in a flare, I have to treat it like a part-time job. You have to go to bed at a very specific time, wake up at a specific time, eat many specific foods, meal prep, and do things that are helpful for your body. This includes your mental and physical states.
You have to do all that stuff without stressing yourself out, which is really difficult. Taking care of yourself so seriously makes you feel like you’re working all the time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to take a step back. This time last year, I was doing a lot of theater, and I dropped out of a bunch of shows because I had to take a step back. It’s very possible that you might have to quit some things, so you can concentrate on your health.
Right now, I don’t have a flare, so it’s a little easier.
That there is no cure. There certainly is no silver bullet to fixing this thing. It’s an autoimmune disease. The best thing I can do is try to relax and keep calm.
Don’t try to freak me out by examining me and telling me all the things that I need to do for my condition. Back off when it comes to that.
Right after my diagnosis, the doctor never told me that it was an autoimmune disease. I was still under the impression that it was a skin disease and that there was something wrong with my skin. Then I learned that it’s not my skin — it’s my immune system that’s attacking my skin.
I think the most important thing is to find a community of people who are dealing with the same things you’re dealing with and talk to them.
I would also say to journal as much as you can about how your body is reacting, what you are going through, and what you’re eating. Write down what you’re doing to help your psoriasis and how your body is responding. That’s the best way to keep up with how the things you’re doing can actually help you.
About 2 years ago, my dad had a stroke. He’s mostly OK, but he has aphasia, which makes it difficult to communicate. He understands things, but he has difficulty communicating what he wants to say. Sometimes, there are words he just can’t remember.
We started going to an aphasia support group. I was looking around, and I was in tears, listening to people tell their stories. I realized that I needed this for myself.
I was searching pretty hard for group therapy for psoriasis. I started following people on Instagram, and immediately, I ran into Reena. I thought, “Man, her stories were just so incredible and much more difficult than the ones that I went through!” I just was so happy and so appreciative of her honesty. She hosted a Bezzy event once, and I was hooked. Now, most days of the week, I’m attending Bezzy.
Bezzy gives you the chance to check in with and talk to people about psoriasis. It’s nice to be part of a community where people talk about similar stories and really understand you firsthand.
My wife, for instance, is extremely supportive of me. I’m so happy and appreciative of her, but she doesn’t have psoriasis, and she doesn’t understand what I’m going through.
Talking to people on Bezzy on just about a daily basis is really helpful.
Medically reviewed on October 05, 2023
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