Psoriatic Disease Gave me Thick Skin
When I say that living with psoriatic disease gave me thick skin, I'm not referring to psoriasis. Instead, I'm focusing on how this condition forced me to get tougher out of necessity.
Being diagnosed with PsA opened me to a new world of criticism and advice that I had to learn to cope with. People often feel the need to share their thoughts and opinions with you - even if they aren't very kind.
Building resiliency and self-advocacy
I'm a sensitive person by nature. Of course, I don't intend to be like this and do my best not to take things personally. I've taken many steps to work on my unhelpful sensitive tendencies, but it is still my nature at the end of the day.
I'm blown away by the number of people without PsA who know what I should do to cure my disease.
Who cares what others think?
I had to learn to dismiss others' remarks when it came to my condition. Especially because sometimes it can feel a bit like they're blaming me. "You give in to the pain too much, you're not pushing yourself enough, if you wanted to get better, then you'd..."
If only they knew that I am pushing myself beyond my limits and doing the best I can. I had to learn to tune out advice. Mostly, I meet recommendations with a smile, nod, and a "thank you" before changing the subject. I internally acknowledge that others are sincerely trying to help most of the time. But there are times when suggestions can feel a little hostile, especially when someone won't let you forget that you're not using the "cure" they suggested.
Applying this advice to physicians
My thick skin has even been helpful when dealing with some doctors. Of course, I listen to medical advice. But many people have had doctors brush off the severity of their conditions because they're carrying extra weight or because their inflammation was hard to spot, myself included.
I had to learn to move on and see a new doctor, despite being terrified the next one might say the same thing. And I had to learn to speak up when I felt like my concerns were being brushed off. Everyone has a bad or busy day, and it's my job to advocate for my needs and make sure the doctor takes no. Spoiler alert: I found an excellent doctor who didn't brush me off and got me back on the right treatments.
The words I listen to instead
Not caring what others think or say is so much easier said than done. It's been over ten years since my diagnosis, and I still struggle at times. A handful of remarks will always follow me around. They creep their way in and cause me to doubt my abilities and question everything. That's when the desire to feel better isn't easy to shake off.
But two things have truly helped. The first is that I've found it valuable is to remind myself of how I feel. I've found it helpful to write or say mantras to myself, such as "I am doing my best" and "my feelings are valid". It sounds silly, but it helps to hear these things.
Second, reaching out to others with psoriatic arthritis has also been incredibly helpful. Having someone who is going through the same thing is very validating. When I have a hard time shaking off doubts and remarks, they're there to let me vent and encourage me.
Choose to let the words lift you up
I've never liked the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" because words have a lot of power. They can break you down. But kind, loving, and encouraging words from both loved ones and yourself have the power to lift you up.
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