Letter to Psoriasis Fighters #1: Mental Health and Psoriasis
Hello my fellow psoriasis fighters, this is a letter written from my heart to yours.
If you don’t know who I am, my name is Rocyie and I have been dealing with psoriasis for the past 13 years. If you also are a psoriasis fighter, the struggles that I face daily like the itch and burns are not that different from yours so I will not go into details.
But today, let’s talk about this -- our emotions. Since we are in the midst of Conditional Movement Control Order, we would have had more time with our thoughts than usual so I figured this is the best time to talk about this.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the day when psoriasis came into our lives, how utterly dumbfounded and confused we were. At first we thought it was just a kind of skin rash that would eventually go away with the help of some ointment and medicines. Yet the skin rash persisted, causing us much discomfort physically and mentally, sometimes even more than we could handle. We started worrying more, eventually fear started to creep into our lives as we did not know what would come next.
On top of that, we also started experiencing many unwanted attention and concerns from the people around us. The stare from strangers, and perhaps a curious question from a dear friend and even a “how are you doing?” from our parents would annoy us to no end.
If we take a deeper look into all these circumstances, hidden behind them are the emotions that we never learnt to address. Emotions like anger, grief, guilt, shame and fear etc. These emotions have the cumulative effect in our lives, and whether you like it or not, they form our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.
The very purpose of pointing this out is not to condemn you, but merely to raise the awareness of these emotions that might have been hidden in you for a long time. It is normal to feel resistance in the wake of this awareness, but one thing for sure is that it is not your fault for having them. Ultimately, we are only human after all.
If you are currently feeling heaviness in your chest; if you find yourself being extra sensitive and frustrated; if you find yourself in endless conflicts with your loved ones; if you find yourself crying for no reasons at all, here is something you can do -- it is by asking yourself “what for?”
Underneath our action lies the real emotions which are the causes that drive our actions. They could be insecurity, unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. By asking “what for” continuously at least 3-5 times helps us uncover the real reason why we are feeling and acting a certain way. This form of self-awareness enables us to better understand the real reason behind our actions.
Apart from acting as a mirror for ourselves to reflect on our own action, this awareness is also a form of self-protection. As we understand more of ourselves, we also start to understand people around us. This helps us to be a better person by becoming more empathetic and compassionate towards others. Hence we learn to not take things so personally if we happen to come across any situation that could hurt our feelings because of something somebody else says or does.
Living as a psoriasis fighter is not an easy thing to do, I personally think that the most powerful form of self-love and self-protection is by truly understanding ourselves and our emotions - armouring ourselves with a strong sense of self, better emotional management as well as stronger self-esteem and confidence.
During the first ever virtual Safe Space session that I hosted online as a part of #BePsoPositive campaign, there were participants from many countries - Indonesia, France, Dominican Republic, Philippines, and of course, my home country Malaysia. All 22 of us, from different parts of the world came together with one common thing - Psoriasis.
It was magical to experience the connectedness that we had during the session. Though 14 of us came from different parts of the world, we share so many similarities in our daily struggle with skin condition, especially the mental and emotional aspect of it. Hence, we had this instant trust and vulnerability that needed zero effort to build, and we were able to pour our hearts out and laugh about silly things at the same time.
At the end of the session, participants were able to understand their emotions and actions better, hence improve their interpersonal relationship with the others. They were also equipped with a powerful tool to manage their emotions once they feel overwhelmed. In the midst of all these, they were also able to connect with each other in their most vulnerable state which in my opinion was the most powerful form of empowerment.
Safe Space sessions are curated for people who are seeking emotional support. It is a space where you can be in your most vulnerable state with no judgement. It is a space where you can feel relieved, comforted, connected and empowered at the same time. This most powerful thing about Safe Space is that participants are able to comfort others and be comforted, empower others and be empowered. Needless to say, I am so so glad and truly honored to provide this space to realise such magical experience for all.
By Rocyie Wong