Saturday, May 15, 2010

My story.

I haven't had psoriasis all my life. I may have had bad skin for quite a long time, but that was mostly limited to acne and catching on fire whenever I walked past a sunny window.

I first noticed splotches around my elbows in 2005, when I was 20, shortly after I moved away for college. They didn't really alarm me, I just figured I was stressed or allergic to something. By the end of that year it began to rapidly worsen, and I realised that there was something really wrong.

I was an unemployed student and had no health insurance, so there still wasn't much I could do. After a great deal of time spent researching any and all skin diseases, I determined that I had plaque psoriasis. Since I didn't have the option of just popping into a dermatologist's office and slapping down cash for some steroid injections, I sought out all the information on the disease that I could.

None of that information was particularly encouraging. From the very basics: "incurable, chronic disease of unknown origin", to treatment options: "steroid creams gradually atrophy the skin and increase the likelihood of cancer", to "advice": "wear long sleeves to avoid the hurtful comments of people who don't know how to mind their own fucking business".

Always resolute, I kept my head up and tried looking up some alternative ideas for reducing the symptoms. I tried pine tar soap (not bad, smells like rotting pine trees), a few OTC creams (to basically no effect), and salicylic acid treatments (bad idea—I should have realised this knowing that OTC acne treatments containing salicylic acid always made my acne worse.) Nothing was helping, and I was starting to get scared. The symptoms had exploded by this point, and I felt like I had completely lost control over my own health. I was having trouble getting to my classes, or even going outside. I was in serious physical pain and itched constantly. I could barely sleep. I was very close to having an emotional breakdown.

I first came across the idea of using diet to control psoriasis on a livejournal community. Someone made a post saying that their doctor made a few diet recommendations, even though they didn't really seem logical (it pointed to citrus fruit and IBproufen as triggers. Still not sure about that.) I decided to dig deeper, and eventually stumbled upon this book: Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative. Just reading the first review on gave me hope, and I decided to order it. While I waited for it to arrive, I took the advice set forth in that review. Once I read the book, I followed the diet for the most part, but didn't bother with much of the other stuff (going to a chiropractor, for example, or drinking weird teas.)

I'll make a long story short: I went from over 80% of my body being covered with psoriasis to completely clear in about a month. My skin still looked bruised where the scales had been, but they were no longer red, no longer flaking, and no longer painful or itchy. I had my life back.

After a couple years, I relaxed the diet a bit and still had mostly clear skin. As long as I kept my diet relatively healthy and free of most things that are toxic to me, I was happy; a few spots here and there don't really bug me. I discovered that my worst trigger was dairy products—any and all, skim or whatever—in effect, I have a milk allergy. This means I have to avoid a lot of foods, but it is important that I do so.

This past December, I was broke. Very broke. It was the holiday season, and everyone at work was bringing in cookies, pretty much every day. I couldn't afford groceries at the time, so I started eating as much free food as I could get. I stopped caring whether or not it had dairy in it. I am paying for it dearly now. My psoriasis exploded again after a month of eating garbage, and it is being very stubborn in making its exit. I am now used to the relaxed diet, so I'm not particularly eager to get back on the strict one.

Being scaly again has brought back a lot of the old negative feelings, and I've been getting more stares and comments than I have in a long time. Part of the reason I've created this blog is to help me through this (I'll post about my progress as I try to get back on track and heal), but I also want to be able to help other people who are in the same boat as me: young, beautiful, and struggling with self-confidence issues because of something that is largely out of their control.

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