Patient Blogs | Psoriasis
How I Keep My Chronic Conditions From Affecting My Relationships
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It’s excruciating to admit, but when I don’t take good care of myself, my relationships suffer and as a result, I suffer too. I live with several chronic conditions, including psoriasis, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and anxiety. While I’ve learned to manage my symptoms and create a lifestyle that supports balance and healing, I still experience setbacks. Always learning, always course correcting, sometimes crashing into the rocks. 

For me, the path to physical and emotional vulnerability is a slippery slope. A series of small missteps can result in big cracks in my resilience over time if left unchecked: one less hour of sleep, one more glass of wine, overeating or undereating, saying yes when I want to say no (this is a biggie), not moving my body, shirking meditation, delaying rest, or minimizing pain.

These cracks can reduce my ability to cope with stressors of everyday life and skillfully manage delicate relationship dynamics. As a result, I can become frustrated, irritable, and worst of all, blaming and resentful of those around me. 

I learned this lesson again recently while on vacation with my mom and a lifelong friend. What should have been a relaxing seaside retreat was a week of hard feelings, insomnia, and a constant undercurrent of unease. Today, as I nervously stew in a familiar cauldron of shame and guilt, reconstructing the various scenes of emotional crimes, the trusty trifecta of acceptance, boundaries, and communication surfaces to guide me back to center yet again.

Acceptance

I may not like it, but I know I have physical and emotional limitations, and that’s OK. Sometimes I’m in pain. Sometimes I tire easily. Sometimes my hands and feet are cracked and bleeding. Sometimes my stomach aches with worry. Sometimes I need to be alone. A well-honed perfectionist, I have a spotty track record of accepting and taking responsibility for these limitations and have muddled my way through many family events, jobs, and relationships without regard for my best interests. More often than not, this denial leaves me physically and emotionally depleted and prone to flares, psoriatic and otherwise.

Boundaries

Accepting my physical limitations is a critical component of my self-care. It helps me establish well-being boundaries and make necessary accommodations for myself. This may mean saying no to events altogether when I’m flaring or not feeling well, allowing myself to release the tendency to “put my helmet on” and push through like I always have. This may also mean arriving late or leaving early or abstaining from alcohol or party food. Asking myself a few simple questions before saying yes can make all the difference in the outcome. Do I have the time, space, rest, snacks, water, lightness of heart, pain relief, proper footwear, etc., I need to make this happen? By respecting myself enough to address my needs in advance, I make life easier and more joyful for myself and those I care about.  

Communication

Suffering in silence is soul crushing and can lead to a boatload of bad feelings. It can also make us ill. My family and friends can’t read my mind. If I need help or rest or to bow out altogether, they need to know. In the leadup to the bungled beach week, I said yes to many things when I should have said no, I allowed no privacy or quiet time for rest, and I assumed responsibility for our accommodations, groceries, transportation, laundry, and cleanup. It was pure self-sabotage. Now, exhausted, regretful, and playing catch-up, I see clearly that if I had simply been mindful of my limitations, asked for help, and communicated my needs, I wouldn’t have to swallow such a bitter pill -- again.

 

Photo Credit: Jerry Marks Productions via Getty Images

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Krista Kellogg

Krista Kellogg

Diagnosed since 2001

Krista Kellogg has lived with psoriasis for 20 years. She is dedicated to living well and humbly shares her journey in service to others on a similar path. Krista has served as an advocate and volunteer leader for the National Psoriasis Foundation. She lives in Miami and is the co-founder of Center Content, a mindful marketing and creative content agency.

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