Self-Esteem and Life with Psoriatic Arthritis
Of the many things that psoriatic arthritis affects, you would think that one of the least likely things we have to worry about is our self-esteem. Bills, side effects, disease management, yes, I worry about these things often, but self-esteem? Not so much. Let’s face it, we’ve gone from a world that could care less about self-esteem to a world that perhaps is overly focused on it.
As a parent, pretty much every book I’ve read about parenting talks about maintaining your child’s self-esteem. We are told to protect their self-esteem at all costs. Because without it, they often feel a great deal of self-doubt, self-criticism, and a lack of self-esteem can even lead to increased anxiety and withdrawal from society. So if self-esteem plays such a huge role in the development of children and adults, it only makes sense to pose the question. Does living with psoriatic arthritis have an impact on our self-esteem?
What do you do?
In fact, just the other day, I was introduced to a “friend of a friend.” And is often the case when people meet, we started with polite introductions and basic questions. The one that stumped me the most, and really got me thinking, was, “What do you do?” Now, five or ten years ago, this would not have been a big deal. It would not have caught me off guard, and I probably wouldn’t have even thought twice about it.
“Well, I’m a teacher,” should have been my response. Five or ten years ago it would have been my response. But now? Perhaps I’m not really sure.
Self-esteem and life with PsA
Just like I took my health for granted before, I also took my ability to work for granted. In doing so, I also took the self-esteem that I got from being able to work for granted. I had no idea how much I tied my self-esteem and self-worth to being a “contributing” member of society. So much so, that a simple innocuous question like, “What do you do?” left me floundering for an answer.
What am I? A professional patient? A master of medicine?
So much of our self-esteem is wrapped up in the job we do and if we can no longer do it, because of psoriatic arthritis, we can be left feeling confused and uncertain. Like I no longer fit in with the rest of the “working class,” forcing me to question my own self-worth.
Much like our self-worth is tied to if we are considered productive members of society, it also makes sense that our self-esteem also comes from how we look. Medications cause us to lose weight, gain weight, even lose our hair. Clothes that used to fit and make us feel fabulous no longer do. Steroids cause our face to bloat and even cause a ruddy complexion. You don’t have to be a vain person to know that all these things, seemingly “small” things in the grand scheme, all take their toll on our self-esteem.
It’s about more than simple vanity
Don’t even get me started on the rashes, swollen fingers, and uneven gait. Plenty of things there to knock your self-esteem down a few pegs. Many of us go from walking around life perfectly normal to using walkers, wheelchairs, and canes. If you don’t think that will affect your self-esteem, well, perhaps you are a stronger person than I.
We do have worth and value in the world
All of these aspects of life with psoriatic arthritis can make it very difficult to see ourselves as people of worth, value, and contributing members of society. Our self-esteem contributes to how well we are able to advocate for ourselves, maintain healthy relationships, and enjoy life despite having psoriatic arthritis. So yes, maybe it is a big deal. Perhaps we should take steps to ensure that we have a healthy self-esteem, despite having psoriatic arthritis.
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?