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My relationship between my psoriasis and the way I view my body is improving.
For many years I have disliked my body: overweight, full of red blotches and I just felt ugly. These days I am trying to be healthier, with a good diet and daily exercise, but it is not easy. I am still not in the shape I would like to be. Ideally, I would like to be a few pounds lighter and a regular walker. Walking is my new escape. I love it. Big hills. Small hills. Round the block. There is something to walking that I really like, and it is a great way to shift the pounds.
But whatever I do, however many walks I make, my psoriasis outbreaks still affect me. What is it about the red blotches? Is it people potentially seeing them? Perhaps, as even though I wrap up, I am still conscious of people noticing them and staring at me. Or is it the potential embarrassment from partners or love interests? I am not currently in a relationship, but this is something that would affect that if I were to pursue it. Yet, instead of focusing on loving someone else, over the past few months, I have tried to focus on loving myself. You see, it is important to have a good relationship between your body and your psoriasis.
How you view this relationship is different to different people. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the famous saying goes. It doesn’t mean the gym, muscles and perfect skin for some people. Some view it as feeling good with a positive, uplifting spirit.
So, what have I done to change my relationship between my body image and psoriasis, and how has that helped?
Firstly, I sought help from a therapist. I recognised I needed professional help. I was looking in the mirror and unhappy with the red blotches. Not much changed. I thought nobody would want me and I would struggle to form friendships. I had to see a therapist to change my thinking and understand how destructive this outlook was. It took a while and it is still not completely there right now, but I am on a journey and for once I am learning to love myself and be positive about my body and my psoriasis.
Secondly, I asked others in the community what their relationship was with their body and their psoriasis and how they changed their unhelpful thinking. I got mixed responses. Some did not have a bad relationship between their psoriasis and their body. This was particularly useful because I could adopt some of their thinking strategies to change how I viewed my body, and it has helped. For others, it has just been useful to find other people struggling too. Online and in-person communities, going to events, chatting on social media, just helps to make you realise you are not alone with your psoriasis. For some, it has been useful to see what their coping strategies have been and what they have done to re-work their relationship between their psoriasis and their body. For others, it has been more of an eye-opener just to see who has not been doing well with this part of living with the disease. You can learn so much from someone else’s experience and just chatting opens the door to so many potential remedies.
Thirdly, I made a commitment to stop taking in some of the negative connotations about body image and made a commitment to not pressure myself to look a particular way. If I do want to be a bit skinnier, that is fine. If I do want the red blotches to go away, that is fine too. But do not put too much pressure on myself to achieve these goals. Realise also that these things take time. Getting rid of the psoriasis on my body will not happen overnight, but improvement is possible. Take it in small stages. That can make it easier to manage. Realise that seeking treatment is a step, but that it takes time to find the right treatment and it may be a case of trial and error.
Finally, I will keep up with my dermatology appointments. This is really important as new treatments are being found for this condition all the time. Your GP or dermatology team can recommend different medications and put your mind at ease. I have been on many different types of medication and found some to be unhelpful, but others have worked really quite well. As I’ve already said, treatment is like trial and error, it will differ for different people.
No matter how you decide to approach how you view your body with your psoriasis, try and make small changes so you feel it’s less of a worry. I know with being a man that there are all these stereotypes that men shouldn’t be bothered about the way they look, but body image does affect both men and women. We all just want to feel happy in our own skin and having a positive body image is a part of that.
Psoriasis can ruin your feelings about your body, but it doesn’t have to if you don’t let it.
Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.
MAT-44802 March 2021