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Psoriasis and Anxiety
We men generally aren't that great at opening up and sharing our inner most thoughts and feelings. It's more likely that we'll sit in the pub taking the mickey out of each other and talking about football than go around to each other's houses and share our feelings over a nice cup of tea. And that's fine. Talking about your feelings doesn't compromise you as a man. It won't change the banter you have in the pub with your mates. But it may help you to clear your mind and help you to get a good night's sleep!
Having had Psoriasis for over a decade now, I'm used to undressing in front of countless strangers (Healthcare Professionals, not randomly in the park or anything). But in my experience that has probably made it even harder for me to share my thoughts and feelings with others. It has at times felt as if my mind, thoughts and feelings are the last bit of privacy and even dignity I have left. It's taken a long while and beating depression to make me realise that this is a silly, stubborn and sometimes selfish way of thinking. Once I opened up, I realised what a positive experience it can be.
I first spoke to my G.P. about how I was feeling. The response surprised me. He really listened. He also gave me the details of a local counselling service. But for me I chose to speak to the Samaritans. They were there at the end of the phone when I needed them. They listened on more than one occasion, with no judgment and genuine interest.
These for me were the first small steps that gave me the confidence to talk to those closest to me about how I was feeling. In my experience I found that my friends and family were shocked about how negative my thoughts were. Especially about my Psoriasis. I think after a while I had become good at not only hiding my Psoriasis but hiding how I felt about it.
It was this process of talking to people that lead to my Anxiety diagnosis. It turns out I've had Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD ever since I was a child!
In the early days there was so much worry surrounding my Psoriasis…being paranoid that people were staring at my patches, worrying about flares, worrying that a new treatment wouldn't work, being nervous about undressing in front of new Dermatologists and the list goes on! Whilst I think most of these are natural and normal feelings, for me these worries were all consuming, so much so that I would often cancel appointments, refuse to change treatments and not want to go out, even avoiding certain social situations.
It's been suggested that I felt this way because of my Anxiety. A certain level of anxiety is a perfectly natural, normal way to feel but when it affects your day to day life it really needs to be addressed. When I did eventually address it and opened up to others about feeling anxious, they completely understood. So much so that it made me realise that it wasn't a big deal at all. By bottling these feelings up, they had grown and felt so much more serious in my head than they actually were. Once I realised this, those big issues felt so much smaller and easier to overcome.
Psoriasis can have a negative effect on the way in which you think about yourself. Even when you think you've accepted your condition and are ready to take control you may still have unresolved feelings. Talking to people for me is now as much a part of my Psoriasis treatment as the products, therapies and anything else that may help my skin.
Personally I've found that the more I share, the more relaxed I feel. The more relaxed I feel, the less severe my flares seem to be.
I've learnt so much by talking to people about the way I feel. There's so many ways to help like Counselling, relaxation techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Often referred to as CBT). Personally I'm a big fan of CBT. It's made me face my issues head on. It's not for everyone but if you open up and share how you feel, your GP and or Counsellor will find the right thing for you.
It's becoming more accepted that Psoriasis and Mental Health issues often go hand in hand. You may need to treat both. I do.
You can find out more information of how to contact The Samaritans on their website.
UK/IE MAT-12124 Date of Preparation: October 2017
Blog post developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.