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'I never wanted to be defined by my psoriasis'

My name is Jude, and I’m 26 and live in Glasgow, Scotland.

I have plaque psoriasis and was diagnosed almost 6 years ago now. I had just started my third year at university and noticed a small red mark growing above my left eyebrow. I wasn’t sure what it was and went to the doctor after a few weeks when it didn’t go away. I’ve always had skin issues, from adult acne to shingles, and lots of rashes and reactions. My doctor thought it was just another reaction and that it would die down soon with some cream. I went away and started using the cream to no affect. After a few months, I decided to go back to the doctor as my patch was getting bigger and that is when I was told I had psoriasis, given another cream and told to try that. Again, this didn’t work. In November 2014, almost a year after my initial diagnosis, I was finally referred to a dermatologist to receive oral treatment for psoriasis. At the end of 2018 I was also diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.

I wasn’t bothered about the condition at first, even though it was on my face. However, in the run-up to Christmas 2013, just after I was diagnosed, I had a member of the public approach me, as I was working on the High Street, and tell me that she thought ‘people had to be pretty to work here’. I was devastated by this comment and it deeply affected my confidence. I became very insecure about my psoriasis and I was fearful that everyone was looking at it and judging me for it. It became a very lonely place for me to be. I felt no one understood what I was going through. I was heavily depressed and filled with anxiety.

I eventually decided that I wasn’t going to let this comment get me down anymore. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I decided that if anyone had an issue with my skin and how I look, that is a reflection on them and not me. I never wanted to be known by or defined by my psoriasis. This is a condition that I have and I’m living with but I am certainly not defined by.

Psoriasis has also been a positive in my life. Through having the condition, I learnt to accept and love myself more than I previously did. I’ve also met wonderful friends through the online community, that I would never have met had not been diagnosed with psoriasis and given opportunities to work with brands that I could of previously only dream of.

I think it’s mostly stress that triggers a flare up, but I haven’t been able to pin point exactly what it is, as when I am no longer stressed it doesn’t go away! I’ve tried too many medications to even name, and almost every cream and tablet available! I am currently on Methotrexate biologic injections for my PsA which has helped my psoriasis but not totally cleared me.

I was ‘totally clear’ for around 18 months on the biologic injection Humeria, but had to come off this in March 2018 due to side effects.

I find it really hard to stay stress free, since I am a worrier and incredibly anxious person, so I stress a lot. I find that yoga and meditation help so I try to do this a few times a week! Looking after yourself is so important so taking a selfcare day a week is a must for me!

Most days I wake up at 6:30am to get ready and head to work. I make sure I thoroughly go through my morning skin routine to ensure my skin is off to the best hydrated start and take all my medication before I head out the door. At work I try to eat as healthy as possible and drink at least 2L of water – hydration starts on the inside! I used to be so scared of skincare routines when I first got psoriasis, however since I made it a big part of my holistic plan, it’s really helped how my skin looks and feels!

So many people with the condition believe that it is all people see, and it can be so hard to change the mindset - I know, I’ve been there. if you look in the mirror and are constantly saying negative things about your psoriasis or appearance, start saying something positive about yourself afterwards. Do this each time and eventually your positives will outweigh the negatives. As humans we can be our own worse critics, but this is one small step I took to help change my mindset!

Author credit: Jude Duncan

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