Man practicing self-care by sewing a heart shaped patch onto a brain

Psoriatic Arthritis and Mental Health

It is strange that in a world where mental health is at the forefront of many studies and discussions, there is still any stigma at all. But alas, here we are in 2020 and it is still around.

Human nature makes it hard for some people to ask for help, and more so for them to even realize that they need help. Sometimes what we know is all that we know and, in our world, it is just the normal humdrum. More importantly, we do not realize that it could be better or even just easier.

When I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, I never imagined a day where it would affect my mental health in any way, shape, or form. Ill-prepared for what the future held, I got into this part of my journey.

Physical versus mental pain

Physical pain is a thing that we can feel and quantify. Despite not always being able to see it from the outside, we are very much aware of it and we are able to take steps (sometimes) to alleviate that pain.

When our struggles are mental, for some reason we are less likely to recognize it for what it is or to do anything about it. This, I believe, is largely due to the fact that no one frowns upon taking an Advil for a headache. But therapy or medication for mental struggles seems too far fetched to be real or necessary.

It is silly, really. No matter where the problem is, there are ways to alleviate them or make the struggles easier and it could just be the one thing to sort it out.

Linking psoriatic arthritis to mental health

So, how does having psoriatic arthritis lead me to discuss mental health, you may ask? It is simple, really: having an autoimmune condition that there is no set treatment for. A condition that can leave you struggling to walk and often struggling to lead a normal life takes its toll. There is a price to pay, one that we are not always ready for.

Being in pain 24/7 is deeply exhausting. Being surrounded by people who do not understand what you are going through also has an impact. If you add all these things together, you will find that they in themselves can be enough to trigger a spell of anxiety or depression. Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. We need both to be in good order to get through this journey and live a long and full life.

Stigma and shame

I cannot stress this enough and I cannot say it loud enough: If you are struggling with your mental health, there is NOTHING to be ashamed of. We live in a fast-paced world with a lot of stressors. We are battling a condition that some days knows no bounds. It is okay to not be okay.

Reach out! If nothing else, you can discuss what you are feeling with your GP. Reach out to a friend or loved one or someone in your community (even online) that might understand what you are going through. When we talk with people who are going through the same things or even similar things to us, it brings with it a new level of understanding.

One more thing to keep in mind is toxic positivity. This is a real thing and it is damaging. It is not healthy to feel the need to be happy and positive all the time. We were put together with a range of emotions for a reason. Be kind to yourself, practice some self-care, and reach out. You are not alone in this.

Can you relate? Share your experience with psoriatic arthritis and mental health.

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