When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis in my late 20s, I had a very surface-level understanding of the disease. I knew it was causing me pain, discomfort, and embarrassment, and my search for relief was motivated primarily by these external factors. Like many people, I worked my way through step therapy, including topical treatments, light therapy, corticosteroids, and eventually, biologics. For me, these therapies provided only temporary respite from the burden of the disease, and over time, all of them caused side effects for me, which led me to stop using them altogether. There were long periods in my 30s when I wasn’t actively treating my psoriasis at all, and instead just trying to cope with its symptoms.
Cascade of Comorbidities
During those years, I began to experience a worsening of many of the comorbidities related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis -- heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, anxiety, and depression, to name a few. And again, I relied on external remedies, along with unhealthy coping mechanisms to patch myself up (beta-blockers, antacids, pain relievers, crash diets, and self-soothing with alcohol, cigarettes, and food, which just made everything worse). I combined these ingredients with healthy doses of denial, blame, shame, and overwork. Eventually, a series of health crises pushed me to finally get intentional about taking better care of myself. This intention would require an honest look in the mirror and a deep dive inward, both of which I had been avoiding for most of my adult life.
I understand now that having psoriasis puts me at risk for developing other medical conditions and diseases and that many of these related conditions can be successfully managed with lifestyle changes. But, when I began my quest for health and healing, I was merely treading the choppy waters of my life, desperately gulping for air, and frantically searching for the horizon every day. I didn’t know which way to swim. So, I started with the most painfully obvious outward sign of my inner disease and heartache: being morbidly obese. Just writing the words even now elicits feelings of shame. But it is right there in black and white. Being significantly overweight was slowly killing me, and I had to do something about it.
Treasures From the Deep
For me, releasing the weight of a lifetime held the key to a profound cascade of physical and emotional healing and lifestyle changes that continue to this day. As part of my deep dive inward, I’ve shed 140 pounds and have maintained a healthy body weight for nearly 2 years. Halfway through my weight loss journey, my blood pressure and acid reflux improved so much that I was cleared to stop taking beta-blockers and prescription antacids. The more external layers that were stripped away, the less physical pain I experienced, and the more movement I was able to incorporate into my day. The better I felt, the better I wanted to feel.
Today, I am also tobacco- and alcohol-free and reaching for even more optimal levels of health through continued moderation, movement, and mindfulness. Today, my psoriasis is in remission.
My journey of transformational healing has been anything but linear, and I understand deeply now that it is a lifelong endeavor. I must begin again with every day, every meal, and every healthy choice. I must continue to be accountable for my own coping and healing – this time, from the inside out.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Woodhouse / DigitalVision via Getty Images
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