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Managing Your Psoriasis

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How a Chronic Condition Like Psoriasis Affects Your Identity

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I’m the first person to admit that I’m guilty of attempting to be Superwoman. I’ve never wanted to be a person that seems to be a burden to others. I’m always the go-to person for most people in my life and I never complain, even if I am struggling. However, the harsh reality for me has been as I’ve gotten older is that my chronic condition has made things harder to handle alone. 

In many ways this is actually a good thing. It has forced me to realize that I at times put more stress on myself because I don’t want people to see parts of me that may actually need their help. For a while, it felt like a weakness and I had to really work through the challenges of my condition affecting my identity. 

It’s okay to ask for help

I received a psoriasis diagnosis as a child, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I began experiencing more issues with my joints and major fatigue due to psoriatic arthritis, a condition commonly associated with psoriasis. One day, it felt like my body was stuck in cement, and I knew I had to let my guard down. Building up this “I’ll do it myself” identity wasn’t good or realistic for me. Many days I could barely get myself out of bed. Some days I was in constant pain, and some days I would just cry and ask why this was happening to me. 

I shared openly with my twin sister about not understanding why my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis was affecting me the way it was. She encouraged me and let me know I didn’t have to try to do everything on my own. I began to then open up to my closest friends and family. I let them know that I would be using my “if you need anything” cards they all often handed out. The Ayesha they knew that would try to do it all was shifting. 

Sharing with my children was a bit harder for me. I felt bad that I would have to rely on them to do more things around the house because sometimes I simply couldn’t. The reality is they wanted to help because they knew I needed them. Sometimes we try not to bring things to our children but they can clearly see what’s going on. Speaking to them about needing them actually helped them to mature in a positive way, and potentially end the cycle of trying to do it all. Their support and my willingness to be vulnerable with my family has made an incredible difference in my life. It was completely okay to ask for help – even superheroes sometimes team up with others to save the world. Although I am Mom, I am human. Their support has let me know it’s okay just to be human. 

Identity evolution

Many people who know me can say that I am a busy person and would always have a calendar stacked with events. Psoriasis thankfully brought me a balance I didn’t know I needed. As my condition persisted, and I either didn’t want to be seen because of very visible flares or I was completely drained of energy, this also changed. I sometimes would get down on myself because I didn’t want people to think I didn’t want to support them or their events. Eventually I got to a place where I had to prioritize myself in it all, and not an identity or how I would be seen. 

I began to shift from doing a ton of things at a ton of places to using the words, “I can’t make it.” I was slowing down, and okay with it. I truly don’t look negatively at any changes as my identity evolves. We are always changing and this is part of where I am today. I still will try as best as possible to do as much as I am able, versus stretching myself because that’s what others expect of me. The difference now is that I’m honoring myself, my health, and my capabilities. 

Who I am today

Today my identity is not wrapped up in the things I can or cannot do. It is more about who I am and what I have become through my lived experience with psoriasis. Advocating, educating, and mentoring others has evolved into my life’s work. My identity is tied to this work, and is no longer tied to me feeling like a burden or “less than” because of my chronic disease. The challenges we face day to day will always come, but it’s our job to nurture our individual identities. If we accept in life that we are in constant change, understanding that our identity evolves with it all, we can move forward despite our chronic conditions.

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