After my mini-series of ‘DIY Wedding’, I've decided to write about another mini-series based upon my personal experience. This one is going to be called ‘Living With...’ and in each post I’m going to write about my experience of living with the three chronic health conditions that I suffer from;
- Psoriasis (scalp and body)
- Psoriatic Arthritis (including psoriatic nails)
I've never really had anyone to talk to who also suffers from the same health conditions as me, or rather, it may simply be the case that there is someone in my life who does suffer from one (or more) of these conditions but I just don’t know about it. You see, until a few years ago, I never used to feel comfortable talking about my conditions, not even to my friends, because I was so incredibly embarrassed by them, especially my psoriasis. I spent the best part of 10 years trying to hide my scalp psoriasis from the world as I was so ashamed of it, like it was some dirty secret. So I guess if I felt like that then it’s possible that others may feel that way too.
So you may be wondering what changed? Why am I all of a sudden willing to talk about it? Well, first of all, with age comes confidence and with confidence I've grown to be more comfortable in my own skin. I no longer care whether people know what I suffer from or not. Nowadays I don’t care if people I meet stare at my deformed fingers or discoloured nails or the psoriasis patches on my elbows. I no longer go out of my way to hide what I suffer from, partly because some things like my fingers and nails can’t be hidden but primarily because I’m comfortable with who I am and what I have.
Aside from confidence, I learnt to put things in to perspective because what I suffer from, as terrible and painful as it is at times, it isn't likely to kill me. This is quite a recent achievement because I did use to have a lot of thoughts along the lines of ‘Why me?’, ‘What am I being punished for?’ etc etc but then when I saw people I knew go through health issues that could kill them, it kind of put mine into perspective. For a while I swung the other way, thinking ‘Well why not me?’, ‘What’s so special about me that means I shouldn't suffer?’ or ‘If someone has to have this damn disease then why not me?’. Now I don’t have any of those thoughts, not the ‘Why me?’ or the ‘Why not me?’, now I just accept it for what it is and try to deal with it as best as I can – acceptance of things for what they are is something else that I've learnt to do recently and it’s amazing how much inner peace that has brought me. Acceptance doesn't mean that I've given up or that I’m not going to try to improve things, it simply means that I've re-focused that energy and voice in my head that was always asking ‘why’ towards a more constructive direction.
I've also redefined my definition of true beauty. To me, true beauty is no longer about what the eye can see but what the heart feels. This is not an easy concept given the superficiality of the world we live in and how ‘beauty’ is defined in our society. It’s certainly not a concept that I as a teenager or even in my early 20s would have got my head around. I wish I had because I might have been a happier person. In my 20s I spent so much time hiding any physical signs of my psoriasis that I missed out on a lot of 'living'. My psoriasis and arthritis may affect how I look, my outer beauty so to speak, but it doesn't change who I am as a person and it doesn't change the way I can make people feel or the way people can make me feel.
Over the last couple of years I've taken ‘active’ control of my health conditions. I must admit, this was primarily forced upon me with the move to Singapore and dealing with a completely different type of healthcare system. In addition, towards the end of 2011 I hit my lowest point ever regarding my health and realised that I could no longer carry on with the way things were and had to take control. One of my biggest regrets of my 20s was not taking active control of my scalp psoriasis and just letting my GPs (family doctors) fob me off with one treatment after another that made no difference and I eventually just gave up hope, hope of ever getting better. Looking back now, I know I should have been more proactive – hindsight’s a wonderful thing, isn't it?
Finally, I guess the other significant thing that changed was that I met my darling hubby and he gives me so much support and encouragement and makes me feel beautiful despite my scaly skin, discoloured nails, wonky fingers and that really does work wonders ... for me, my confidence, my self esteem and especially my emotional health. Unconditional love and support can do amazing things!
So there you have it, those are some of the things that did change and I’m sure there are others but I’ll cover those in my posts on each condition over the coming weeks. For those of you not interested in this mini-series, don't despair there will be my regular mish mash of posts alongside this mini-series.
Apologies that this is quite a text heavy post and I imagine the ‘Living With ...’ posts that will follow will also be text heavy but I’ll try to include the odd pretty picture in there ;o)
Love Sheen xxx