If My Psoriasis Could Speak
If your psoriasis could talk, what would it say? Merritt shares her thoughts in our latest blog.
Merritt Ward is one of our community writers and currently lives with psoriasis. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts where she works as a public relations specialist, and hopes her personal stories will help uplift and empower others in the psoriasis community.
“Aren’t you embarrassed to be seen with me? I would be.”
“People are staring at you – how does that make you feel?”
“Those people aren’t going to want you to sit next to them, and you know why…”
These are just a few of the thoughts my psoriasis pointedly says to me on a routine basis – and I know I’m not the only psoriasis patient who feels this way. In fact, 84% of people that took the Clear about Psoriasis Survey suffer from discrimination or humiliation.[i]
In my head, my psoriasis is shrill and catty, and she seems to knock on my door at the most inopportune times. For example, when I’m deciding what to wear to work, she pops out of my closet and holds up all my knee-length dresses and skirts. She LOVES to point out that they’ll really accentuate the red, flaky, itchy bumps on my shins. Isn’t that so sweet of her?!
She also shows up (and flares up) a couple hours before I meet new people. “Oh, you’re going to meet a friend of a friend for dinner for the first time? Perfect. I’ll join you!” “New people attending Thursday-night book club? Great, I’ll be sure to be bright red so everyone notices you.” I find that it’s often easier to mention my psoriasis immediately and tell new friends and acquaintances about my condition first, on my own terms.
I least like it when she arrives on the day of big client meeting at work. Not only am I anxious, but I then have to hear her little voice creep in: “I bet your client will only be staring at your skin when you speak.” “Aren’t you worried they’ll think it’s contagious? I noticed they didn’t want to shake your hand earlier.” I’m not the only one who thinks this: 45% of psoriasis patients in the Clear about Psoriasis Survey had been asked if they were contagious, and 54% of patients felt psoriasis had affected their work life.[ii]
I also despise when she decides to tag along to any of the following: vacations, all types of exercise, weddings, baby showers, birthdays (especially mine!), holiday parties, Christmas morning, mornings in general and really just about anything and everything. I can’t help but think of what she’s saying:
“I think they might be staring. Yes, they are definitely staring.”
“How much red is too much? Should I turn it up?”
“I feel like you haven’t seen enough of me this week.”
“I hope you don’t mind, but I actually am going to overstay my welcome.”
“You look like you’re having fun. Let me ruin that!”
Whenever she awakens and is clearly and purposely trying to get under my skin, I practice calming my heartrate and taking deep breaths. I inhale for five counts, hold, exhale for five counts. I try to be patient and relaxed. I know she’s going to be around for a while, and there’s not much I can do about the situation except make the most of it.
Then, there are rare times when she stops being shrill and catty and gives me a reprieve. I make sure to enjoy those times as a point of relaxation. Although she can be tough on me, I appreciate the smaller things so much more when she isn’t around, and I thank her for it.
Want to learn more about what others living with psoriasis are talking about? Check out our Ask 4 Clear pageto find out. And if you want to hear more from Merritt, follow her as she attends the 25th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress from 28 September through 2 October using the hashtag #Skinsider.