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Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

The week of 8th to 14th May is Mental Health Awareness week and there has been a lot of press about mental health lately. With our own Royal Family speaking out it seemed to once again bring mental health to the forefront. It is also apparent there is still a lot of stigma attached to mental health. I also read a comment from a well know journalist and presenter saying that men should just “man up”.

For me, my mental health issues have come about from the years I have spent with psoriasis. I often relate this to torture, it is that painful and difficult to live with. If you try to imagine what it would be like if you were woken up regularly, had itching powder put in your sheets, you skin made sore then purposely have something poured over it to make it sting, it will give you just a idea of what it can be like in the day of a psoriasis patient. Now think of that happening every day. Do you think your mental health may suffer just a little?

That’s just the surface of psoriasis, there’s a much deeper issue. Anxiety creeps in as you look in the mirror and see your face, the flakes from your scalp on your shoulders, you wonder what others think when they see you and that’s before even venturing outside and seeing people’s reactions. Feeling you are ugly or unsightly without anyone saying anything is your head playing tricks with you. Those feelings can grow though and when you’re tired from an extreme lack of sleep and having to fight this condition every day, those thoughts can easily take over.

I have been there, right to the very edge of despair and my skin and blood caked fingers somehow dragged me back. I am better, not fully recovered and every morning can bring a worry of “how will I feel today?”. Every single day is still a fight, some days are just easier than others. I find ways to cope, ways to release my feelings so I no longer bottle it all up. I find a way to live my life and enjoy as much of it as I can. So even if you see me smiling, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m well. It could mean I’m just hiding.

Back the Mental Health Awareness week. For this I have linked back to a couple of blog posts from the past. One is about what started the fight, how close I was to ending it all, that was a Dark Night. The other is not quite as dark yet still highlights the mental health issues experienced, Faulty Switch.

Now begs the question how am I still going? Well that is much easier to answer. It is due to support from my family, friends and a GP who has somehow stopped me being diagnosed with depression. Of course there is my Cat, Bob who know just when I need a nose bump. With a love of food and cooking I have something I can escape to and focus on creating the perfect dish rather than over think how I’m feeling. That escape, even for a few minutes, can give me the strength to carry on fighting.

 

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Psoriasis, the pain in the backside, the bane of my life. The physical side of it makes it difficult enough to cope with, the itching, flaking, sore and stinging skin which makes you uncomfortable and lose sleep. There’s the treatment too, often creamy or oily emollients which then stain clothes, feel uncomfortable wearing clothes over them. There are some better products out there but still not enough and most of the ones that are light enough to use under clothing only last about five minutes with psoriasis.

On top of all this there is the mental health issues that decide to come along for the ride. The thoughts in your head such as “I look awful”, “how can anyone like me?”, “I just want to hide”, “I don’t want to live with this anymore”. The now common phrase is that Psoriasis is more than skin deep and how true that is. It attacks every fibre of your being. Your body, your mind, your soul. It seeps into your brain and when you’ve had enough you can start to find yourself making like a snail and retreating into your shell for comfort. The only thing is, that shell is possibly the most dangerous place to be.

In my shell I am alone. It’s dark and gloomy and the world looks like it’s coming to an end. I still go there though when times are tough. Like I’m punishing myself for having this disease. It’s also where I start to think too much about it. I mull over all those disappointing consultations where the doctors have treated me as a number or as if I’m actually getting in the way of something more important. I think of how long I have lived with this condition and then feel guilty that others have had it longer and are not moaning as much as me.

Oh the guilt, that really hits you hard. Feeling guilty that I feel like I have the worst illness known to man whilst others are battling terminal illnesses, families are watching loved ones struggle for life or dealing with grief after losing them to other illnesses. What gives me the right to be unhappy with my life? I’m alive aren’t I?

And the thoughts go on. Especially recently as I’ve had a bit of extended time to myself. Have a break, it’s good for the soul, relax, rest up. That is another difficult one. I take time out and sit back, put my feet up and an itch comes along. I can’t rest, I can’t relax, I can only fidget and scratch and the thoughts that come along are dark and depressing. There is no let up from Psoriasis, it is constantly there, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I truly believe Psoriasis hates me.

Gone are the positive thoughts I had after my last clearance. Gone is the positivity a couple of years ago when I said “No more”. With me now are thoughts of “Did I just say that to hide that I can’t cope?”, “Was I just pretending I was positive or was I really just ignoring what was going on?”.

As I sit and think I wonder what is now the truth and what part of me is lying. Have I always been positive and been wallowing in self pity, using this illness as an excuse not to do things. Or have I always been struggling and lying to myself that I can fight, that I will win, that I am happy. It becomes blurry. The two sides of me fight each other and I am stuck in the middle thinking. Thinking about psoriasis, thinking about what I think about psoriasis, thinking if what I think is what I know or just what I think. Or am I just overthinking?

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