August 15, 2023 4 min read
I first found out I had Psoriasis at 26 years old and at 58 now, I’ve come to observe that all sufferers travel down a similar road – otherwise known as the eight stages of Psoriasis. Do any of these stages resonate with you?
When you first notice Psoriasis perhaps at the time you think it's just a minor rash, you assume that it’s just something that will soon disappear, and you ignore the problem. Around this time, you may also be making lifestyle choices that are typical for a 26-year-old but are doing quite a bit of harm to your condition. Things like drinking, smoking, going out, not sleeping, wearing poor quality fabrics, the list goes on but you’re young after all and therefore, invincible.
Your Psoriasis flares start to increase. They grow, they get patchy and become raw. But you continue to ignore, ignore, ignore. Again, you’re young and it’s nothing you can’t handle yourself. You may also sneak some moisturiser from your mum, sister or girlfriend hoping for a quick fix. In this time, you’re still making poor lifestyle changes that are contributing to the growth of your condition, unbeknownst to you.
Flare up’s start to gain hold and become more frequent – this is where your level of concern begins to grow. The patches on your skin are now flaking, they’re difficult to cover up and you’re becoming increasingly self-conscious about their appearance on the skin. You start to worry and acknowledge that there may be a health concern here, so you turn to Google for some much-needed advice. It took me 5 years to get to this stage and yet it was the most influential. It was becoming difficult to hide and my daily routine was suffering. I remember one very specific time whilst holidaying in Sri Lanka. I was spending time at the resort pool and became very aware that other visitors were concerned about my skin, so much so that I was asked to leave as I may be contagious.
Frustration is a very prominent emotion for a lot of Psoriasis sufferers. There are many times where you feel you’re not living with quality of life or even just some normality. There was blood on my clothing from all the scratching. Every time I took of my shirt to change or do some exercise a cloud of powder would erupt. It was painful even getting into bed, the sheets felt scratchy against my skin and now my wife’s sleep was being disrupted. You are at your wits end!
It’s finally time to consult a doctor and guess what? Your suspicions based on previously Google searches are correct, you have Psoriasis. And in some strange way you feel a little bit of satisfaction upon confirmation. The doctor will usually send you on your way with some cortisone, lots of cortisone. And by then you’ll typically sit in one of two camps: The sufferer who is terrified of the side effects of cortisone or the sufferer who uses way too much. I was the latter. I used way more than what was recommended because it made my skin feel better. It was also drying out my Psoriasis patches even more and was causing damage to the texture of my skin.
You decide that this basic form of treatment just isn’t working for you and find yourself in the waiting room at the Specialists office. You figure that they’ll know a lot more about skin conditions, Psoriasis especially, and you’re right. Here you were offered a wide range of hopeful treatments such as biologics, UV therapy and oral medication, paired with some great lifestyle advice. The lifestyle advice will also come at a wonderful time in your life where you may have a young growing family, a mortgage and a general increase in your responsibilities so advice like stop drinking, stop smoking, increase daily exercise, get more sleep and stress less, all come to an anxious-ridden head. It’s only crossed my mind recently that during this stage for me I was really struggling to cope whilst suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression. And so, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? You give up.
Enter Stage 7 and probably an all-time low. I had long stopped my regular appointments with my dermatologist, I didn’t understand how biologics worked all I knew was that they were an expensive form of treatment, and I was lagging on my positive lifestyle changes. But then I met Todd Bello. For those who are unaware, Todd Bello is the Founder and CEO of Overcoming Psoriasis, a digital support group where members share advice, struggles, successes, and overall experience with other Psoriasis sufferers. These lovely people are not doctors but regular people experiencing the disease day in and day out. It was extremely refreshing to read through and connect with other sufferers who understood how I was feeling, and this gives you a little bit of drive.
This may not be true for all Psoriasis sufferers but certainly true to my journey is that I went natural. Well, as natural as possible that worked for me. I don’t drink anymore, I don’t smoke, I do my best to eat right and exercise every day. I also focus on reducing my stress levels and maintaining my wellbeing through meditation, quality sleep and rest, without sticking to an overly stringent routine. I do these things to make sure that my psoriasis doesn’t come back in ferocity.
After many years of swapping Psoriasis stories and experiences with other sufferers I've come to notice a clear pattern in our individual health journey's. It is important to remember at the end of the day that Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory condition that can be managed through natural methods and remedies. It also helps to find advice and solace in members of your community, or at least other sufferers that you can lean on.