I’m very glad that Kathy wanted to share her story, because I know that it can be very hard to talk about an illness that is not very common. Although Kathy was unsure about if her illness was an ‘invisible’ one, in my opinion I defiantly think it is!! Her illness may appear on her skin, but their are are a number of things related to the illness that are actually invisible like anxiety, psoriatic arthritis etc. Have a read of her story, about how one trigger lead to so much, and how she carries on to keep fighting to get better.
What is the name of your condition/s?
My condition is called Psoriasis which is a chronic auto immune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. The resulting build ups of skin create red itchy painful patches that can appear on any part of the body. This can also develop into psoriatic arthritis which causes joints to become stiff and painful.
The exact causes of psoriasis aren’t known, however research has shown that the condition can be genetic, and can start because of a certain event, known as a trigger. This can be as simple as an injury to your skin, a throat infection, every person’s story is different. Psoriasis is also a Psychosomatic Disorder which means the physical effects of it can be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety.
How long have you had it for?
I have had psoriasis since November 2016.
Daily struggles and how it’s affected you?
My psoriasis began after an unhealthy, traumatic relationship ended and I went through a period of depression. I was drinking excessively, taking drugs and just stopped caring or looking after myself. I tried to suppress my emotions anyway I could to not deal with how hopeless I felt. The physical and mental abuse of my body triggered the start of my condition.
I ignored it for a while, until it began to spread from one patch on my leg, to the other leg and then my arms. The severity of psoriasis can be very mild to severe (severe is thought as over 10% of your body). Just last month my psoriasis covered 65% of my body and was beginning to show on my face. I had to quit my job because my mobility was being so impaired which increased my stress, only flaring my condition even more. My knees would ache and my skin would burn in the cold weather outside, and I would try to cover any part of my skin it could be seen on. Although my condition can be physically seen on my body, the emotional impact of the disease is just as debilitating. I didn’t want to meet new people and I continue to struggle with periods of low-self esteem and wanting to hide myself away. When my condition is really bad my skin falls off everywhere I go. I wake up covered in skin, literally.
How have you dealt with it?
I have now taken steps to really deal with the emotional causes of my disease as the link between my mental state and physical condition has become very apparent. I have begun to attend regular therapy sessions, am on a new medication which has begun to get the physical appearance of my skin under control. Talking about my disease with friends and family and now to you is really helping me to get my self-confidence back to where it used to be.
Is there treatment for this condition?
There is no cure for psoriasis, however the condition can be managed. If it is only mild creams and ointments can be prescribed, however in my case its a mixture of lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and healthy living) and other treatments. I had light therapy treatment for 3 months which my body stopped responding to and I am now on an immune suppressing oral drug.
Did you ever find it hard to speak about?
I’ve found it very hard to speak about as I was worried that people would think I was disgusting or would think it was contagious and they could catch it (which someone asked me when I was working as a waitress). I also had shame around how the condition began and blamed myself for causing it.
Do you know anyone who has the same condition?
I do know a few friends who have psoriasis and they have been very supportive and recommended me treatments and shared ways they deal with their condition, which I have really appreciated.
What would your advice be to anyone who is dealing with an invisible illness?
My advice to people suffering from invisible illnesses would be that it’s okay to ask for help as keeping your feelings inside only damages you more. Don’t feel like you have to face it alone and shrink into yourself, or that no one will care. The more you talk to people about your illness, the more awareness you spread, and the more people you will find to support each other.
What would your advice be to people who are trying to help someone with an invisIble illness?
If you are trying to help someone with an invisible illness, just let them know that you care and you support them. That’s the best thing you can do.
DID YOU KNOW??
-Up to 1.8 million people in the UK have psoriasis.
-Approximately one third experience depression and anxiety.
CLICK HERE for more info.
Thank you Kathy for sharing your story, I really felt your pain when i was editing this post, and I really understand why you would’ve thought you were the one to blame, as when we have chronic illnesses, we tend to look for why it’s there and why it happened. We tend to blame ourselves if there’s nothing else there to blame, but honestly it’s not your fault. Carry on trying to do everything you can to manage your illness and then tell your self, ‘I’m proud of myself for trying!’. Everything really does happen for a reason, and the way i see it with my illness, is that it happened to me to make a change for other people. See if you can find the positives, and i know that’s hard!
Always here Kathy, and i’m sure a lot of other people around you are to! Thank you again for letting me share this,
Will hopefully be posting some more stories soon,
Stay tuned, and i hope you enjoyed the read.
Naz x x