Have you accepted your psoriasis diagnosis yet? Before you answer “yes” reflexively, take a moment. Think about your psoriasis and all that was affected by your diagnosis. Think of what continues to be influenced by your psoriasis today.
Avoid telling yourself, “I was diagnosed years ago. Of course, I have accepted it.” Meanwhile, remember that acknowledging that you have a chronic medical condition like psoriasis is different than accepting it.
Do you have your answer or do you still need a hint? A sure way to tell if you have accepted your psoriasis is to assess your feelings surrounding it. Do you hate your psoriasis? Does it make you uncomfortable when people look at or comment on your skin? Do you dread summer because you cannot cover up as much as you can in the winter? Does a flare make you angry? Do you feel anxious when leaving home because you are unsure of the responses you will receive?
Answering “yes” to any or all of these questions gives the impression that acceptance is not yet a part of your life. Acceptance is an amazing target to shoot for. Acceptance means that you peacefully understand and welcome your current state, no matter how negative or detrimental you think it is. Sometimes people mistake acceptance for liking something. You do not have to like something to accept it.
Risks of Non-acceptance
Like other chronic medical conditions, people with psoriasis are more likely to have comorbid depression and anxiety. It is confirmed that psoriasis does not cause the mental health issues directly.
So, what is the link? The link is stress. When you are faced with a life-changing diagnosis, it forces you to rethink the way you see yourself and the world around you. Perhaps, you previously thought that the world was a wonderful place filled with great people and amazing experiences. Then, psoriasis came in and disrupted your view.
Now, you are not sure how you see things. Children seem scared by your plaque. People have been looking at you differently. The reaction you drew last time you went swimming was enough to make you never want to go again. People have been treating you more negatively.
Without acceptance, the reactions of others begin to change the way you see yourself. If children seem afraid of you, maybe you are scary. If people stare at you, maybe you are odd, and maybe the other swimmers were right to have strong reactions to you jumping in the pool.
It is clear that this change in thinking leads to a change in feelings. You will become more depressed, anxious, self-conscious and fearful. Furthermore, the change in feelings will lead to a change in behavior as you become more isolated and uncomfortable in social situations.
If you remain unsure about the value of acceptance, consider the alternative. The opposite of acceptance is rejection. Obviously, you would be happy to reject psoriasis, but it is not psoriasis that you are rejecting.
Psoriasis is a part of you, though it doesn't have to define you. It is no different than the nose on your face, your height or the hair on your head. Without acceptance, you are rejecting yourself. If you actively reject yourself, it is only a matter of time before depression and anxiety enter your life or grow in the damage they cause.