a man pointing and yelling at his reflection in the mirror, as the reflection has a look of disappointment

Three Dangers Of Blaming PsA Flares On Yourself

Self-blaming a psoriatic arthritis flare. We have all done it. Some more than others, but at one time or another we have all blamed a flare on something we think we should have been able to control.

While it is true there are occasions when we fail to heed the warning signals of our bodies needing a break, or when we pushed a little too far out of our own stubbornness, but these are not the cause of our flare.

So, why do we flare?

We flare because we have an incurable chronic illness that will flare when it wants to no matter what we do. This is not to say that we should not try to eat well, exercise, or do things that will not harm our bodies.

Instead, to accept that flares are going to be a part of our lives. To think we can stop them completely is to believe we can control the disease. This brings me to the first of three dangers that stem from self-blaming psoriatic arthritis flares.

Failure of flares

When we blame ourselves for a flare-up, we are taking responsibility for an uncurable illness, one that we did not cause or create. That is a huge responsibility! Especially considering that top scientists and doctors have yet to figure it out.

For many years I took all the blame for every flare, whether there was something I could have done differently or not. This resulted in my feeling like a complete failure whenever I was not functioning like I used to.

Walking on eggshells

Another way self-blame affects my emotional health is that it creates a life that is filled with anxiety. My inability to control, prevent, or end a flare triggers paralyzing anxiety.

Instead of enjoying life, I would find myself over-analyzing every movement and action of my day. Should I do this? What could I have done differently?

I know that for me, some of my desire to have control over my psoriatic arthritis flares stems from growing up with an abusive father. My earliest memories are of wondering what I could have done differently or better to be spared his abuse. In counseling, I learned that I was not to blame for his abuse. I later returned to therapy after recognizing these same thoughts regarding my chronic illnesses.

Views from the outside

When friends and family hear us vocalize our self-blame, they believe us. Sure, there may be a few, especially in the beginning that might remind us that we have a debilitating disease and that we are not to blame.

But the more they hear us blame our own actions, the more they believe that maybe we really are to blame. This puts a strain on relationships when our illness forces us to cancel plans. Friends and family no longer blame the illness, but instead, look for fault in all our actions.

Final thoughts

Self-blame is an ongoing battle. Whenever I feel myself falling down the rabbit hole, I remind myself of the following.

I did not create psoriatic arthritis. I did not give myself psoriatic arthritis. I cannot cure psoriatic arthritis.

But I can and I will love and care for myself and my body all the time, even while flaring!

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