Patient Blogs | Psoriasis
Asking for Help as an Act of Self-Care
photo of woman comforting friend hand on shoulder

For so much of my life, a gnawing fear of failure prevented me from asking for help when I needed it most. Anxiety was a primary motivator in many aspects of my life, including health, work, and relationships. Fueled by a fruitless pursuit of perfection and a gripping need to feel in control, my fear of letting go manifested in over responsibility, overwork, micromanagement, and misplaced resentments. My harmful withholding of self-care nearly killed me and often made those around me miserable. As I deepen my commitment to health and well-being, I am learning that asking for the help is not only the highest form of self-care, but also self-worth.

When I developed debilitating palmar-plantar psoriasis in my late 20s, I didn’t allow it to slow me down. I lived my life through the pain, experimenting with treatment after treatment along with my doctors, to no avail. I suffered largely in silence, moving through my days acting and behaving as if nothing was wrong. When in fact, I was experiencing prolonged periods of damaging inflammation, infection, and unaddressed pain, all of which exacted a heavy toll on my ballooning body. I was taking steroids and pain relievers to cope with the symptoms and resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms to mask pain, exhaustion, and stress.

My uncontrolled psoriasis was a metaphor for a life teetering on the edge -- a symptom of the passive participation, low self-esteem, avoidance, and emotional immaturity that defined my voiceless way in the world for so long. My real cry for help came many years later as I collapsed on the living room floor from a perforated ulcer as a result of too much of everything. On my way down, I muttered to my husband, “I think you should call 911.” As I lay there half-conscious, covered in my own bloody vomit and worrying about staining the rug, I knew I was in big trouble. Big trouble needs big help, and my journey of surrender began that day.

Expert Empowerment

Part of this surrender is an increased focus on maintenance, monitoring, and prevention, along with a deepening understanding that I don’t need to be in crisis or overextend myself to the point of burnout to reach out for help. Or worse, feel that I must somehow earn assistance, rest, or accommodation. We all need help sometimes, and seeking out the right people for the job at the right time (not in an emergency) can be a lifesaving step. For me, developing an evolving care team of physicians, therapists, coaches, and other experts to help me right the ship along the way has been a lesson in humility and gratitude.

Fundamental Frameworks

When I seek help from this trusted team, I know that it’s not about giving up or giving in, it’s about me not giving out. It’s also about listening more than I speak, taking advantage of the tools, resources, and proven frameworks made available to me, and committing to a plan of action. WW (formerly Weight Watchers), mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other recovery and treatment organizations are a few examples of behavioral systems that have helped me understand the causal effects of my self-neglect and regain my health, piece by piece. More importantly, they are all safe spaces that I can return to again and again to ask for help when I’m struggling or need extra support. These platforms have helped me take responsibility for the trajectory of my life, develop healthy habits to manage my psoriasis and other chronic conditions, and hold myself accountable through consistency, self-compassion, and self-care.

Vital Vulnerability

For me, asking for help is never simple, but I know now that it is vital to my overall well-being. As a recovering perfectionist, people pleaser, and internalizer, admitting that I need support and assistance to thrive instead of simply survive is one of the lessons that has taken me the longest to learn -- and I am still working on it. It is breathtaking how much of myself I gave away to feel whole. A deep well of unworthiness kept me running on empty for so long.  In recent years, I have been filled to overflowing with the generous gifts of time, guidance, caring, and expertise that those around me are so willing and able to give if I simply ask and receive.


Photo Credit: JGI / Jamie Gill via Getty Images

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Krista Kellogg

Krista Kellogg

Diagnosed since 2001

Krista Kellogg has lived with psoriasis for more than 20 years. She is dedicated to living well and humbly shares her journey in service to others on a similar path as a writer, blogger, and WW wellness coach. 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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