October 2018

Psoriasis impacts every aspect of my everyday life. My doctor recently told me that this is unhealthy, I do not agree. I don’t know how people expect psoriasis not to impact on my everyday life? I have had it for the last 31 years, from the age of six. It is part of who I am and to be in conflict with psoriasis is in my mind to be in conflict with myself. Do I love having psoriasis? Of course not! Do I love myself? Yes.

The biggest problem I have with psoriasis is the lack of awareness. One of the hardest things growing up with psoriasis has been telling people about my condition. No one has heard of it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have accepted the statement ‘Yes, it's just like eczema’ when it is not. People are happier though when you relate the disease to eczema because they can relate to that, they know it is ‘safe.’ Psoriasis is a disease which is often confused with infectious conditions, which may lead to those of us with the condition to being victims of social stigma.

In my early twenties, I was prescribed an immunosuppressant; this was revolutionary for both my physical and mental health. I saw my knee caps for the first time in around ten years, and I embraced the dating scene with more confidence. The best thing that came from taking this immunosuppressant was the realisation that I was no different from the person I used to be with psoriasis. I had always felt that psoriasis had held me back, but it was not the case. This realisation was liberating and was the catalyst for me taking control of my condition and changing my perspective for future treatment entirely.


Gemma's skin during a flare up

Educating myself about psoriasis has been the best thing I have done to control my condition. Once I took control and educated myself I suddenly started to get more from my dermatologist. I also embrace a more holistic approach to healing. Psoriasis is multifactorial, and whole body health is essential.

It is inevitable that my disease has affected everyone close to me. My siblings describe themselves as neglected during childhood, tongue in cheek of course, because I got to stay up late nearly every night while my mother removed my scalp treatments.  Her dedication did not stop there; she would take me to treatment centres abroad and travel to clinics on the other side of the country in a bid to make my life more tolerable.

This brings me to my final point, as a young person I knew I wanted children and psoriasis is both visually unappealing and has genetic links. I believed that no one would want to reproduce with me, not when they knew the truth. My husband-to-be has encouraged me to start a family, and we now have three wonderful children. I do fear that one day they will develop the condition, but there are indeed worse things to worry about, so I continue doing what I need to do to make the world a better place for people living with psoriasis by blogging and podcasting about the disease.

Gemma Boak