Psoriasis first appeared on my scalp at the age of 22 – a small round patch of dry skin that looked a lot like dandruff. I had no idea what psoriasis was and only went to a GP a few months after when it started to get bigger. The year prior to the first patch appearing it had been a stressful time for me with a death in the family. Stress is often the cause/trigger for autoimmune illnesses, which psoriasis is.
2 years later I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis which was in both my knees. That was devastating for me as I lived an extremely active life. To go from playing netball and daily morning runs to barely being able to walk up the stairs at the young age of 24…was TOUGH. At that age no one ever expects to have arthritis and when I was told that I would never play netball again, I spent an entire weekend in bed crying. After a series of steroid injections my knees settled and the occasional psoriasis patch would appear on my arm/leg/stomach over the years, but it didn’t really bother me because they were small and were mostly hidden by clothing.
From 2009 to 2013 I had two large flares – one was the arthritis which made it very physically challenging for me to look after my toddler. The second large flare was the psoriasis where the skin coverage literally doubled in one week after I had to have an emergency c section due to birthing complications with my second child. Both times I took medication – it was prescribed on the basis that there is no cure for this condition, so the best option is weekly drugs to suppress the immune system and hopefully the arthritis and psoriasis will decrease.
During this time I started to look towards a healthier lifestyle to help myself and read widely (aka devoured everything!) on diet and mindset. There is material out there about people who have reversed all sorts of health issues (including psoriasis and arthritis), people just need to look outside of the medical community to find it.
This route was SO appealing to me. The diagnosis of ‘no cure’, didn’t really sit well with me – it felt like I was accepting the role of being a ‘victim’ because everything offered to me was about how to manage the situation. There was never any offer of hope, only a doom and gloom message. To me however, it wasn’t that there was no cure, it was just that the medical community hadn’t yet found a cure. When I reframed my situation like this, the natural next step was for me to embark on the journey myself to work out how to heal and live my life, my way.
It has been QUITE the journey!! One huge stigma with psoriasis which I had to overcome, is to show my skin, psoriasis legions and all, and not care what others think. When we live in a world where clear skin is marketed as the definition of beauty, it is hard to have psoriasis legions all down your arms and wear a t-shirt. Add to that the stares that people may give you, the worry that skin is falling off your face, pain from when a psoriasis legion has cracked and is bleeding…you get the picture.
I joined Instagram in 2017 and discovered an amazing community of fellow psoriasis warriors!! Raising awareness and encouraging others to live the best versions of themselves, whether they have psoriasis or not, has taken me far – I was featured in BBC Stories, multiple magazine publications and even made it on ITV Morning with Phil and Holly AND was flown to Stockholm to speak at the 5th World Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Conference. It has been an absolute honour to represent the 125 million people worldwide when I have spoken and given interviews.
I did heal last year through meditation (using Dr Joe Dispenza meditations and theory) which was incredible as I went from full body coverage to no psoriasis at all! Unfortunately, I stopped meditating (I really wish I hadn’t!!) and this year has been super stressful so a few small patches have come back. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest because I now know my body is slightly off balance and I am the one that can get it back on track. These setbacks aren’t there to break us, but to make us stronger. Having a minor relapse was an invaluable lesson for me which I have grown from. Actually, the entire journey I have had with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis has made me larger than life. I don’t know if I would have cultivated such a positive, strong, can do attitude if it weren’t for the challenges I’ve had to face over the years with this condition.
Author credit: Ahila Jegerajan