Psoriasis: “Don't do this alone! Open up! Talk about it!”
Published Aug 2, 2023 • By Polina Kochetkova
Meet Reena, @psoriasis_thoughts on Instagram, – a woman who lives with psoriasis, ever since she was a teen, and actively advocates for skin positivity. In this interview, Reena describes in detail how psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition, affects her daily life. She talks about self-love and acceptance, highlighting the importance of connecting with others, who live through similar experiences.
Reena explains to us her treatment regime and its evolution, suggesting psoriasis triggers, that affect her condition. She shares how psoriasis shifted her life both professionally and personally.
Discover her story below!
Hi Reena, thank you for agreeing to share your story with Carenity
First of all, could you tell us a bit about?
I would describe myself as a free spirit, someone who likes change and living a dynamic and exciting life. I love to dance, hike and also to be with my friends. I also am passionate about helping others and doing good for the planet!
You suffer from psoriasis. When were you diagnosed? What were your first symptoms? What prompted you to seek help?
I do suffer from psoriasis, I was diagnosed at the age of 14. My first symptoms were red dots all over my stomach which began to grow, spread and flake as time went on. I was quick to seek help because I was just about to start high school and wanted these red bumps gone.
How long did it take to make the diagnosis? How many doctors did you see?
At first, my doctor thought it was chicken pox, so he sent me home and I waited about 2 weeks, but after two weeks my psoriasis continued to spread and I knew it was something else. I went back to the doctor and he told me he thought I had psoriasis but needed the dermatologist to confirm. I saw two doctors in total and it took about 3 months to get an official diagnosis.
Are you satisfied with your care and with the information you received about the disease?
When I was growing up, I was not satisfied with the care that I received. It was a very transactional relationship. I didn't know how to advocate for myself and there was also no Internet so I couldn't really connect with other people, living with the condition, but now I feel very satisfied with the care that I'm getting. I have a wonderful dermatologist, who is knowledgeable about different treatments, and she has provided me with everything I need to feel good in living with psoriasis.
What are your day-to-day symptoms? Are they complicated to manage?
When I am having active psoriasis flares, the symptoms are itching, flaking, fatigue as well as pain. It also feels very difficult to walk out in public when I have red scales all over my body so at times it's causing me to feel anxious and depressed. Yes, the symptoms of psoriasis can be complicated to manage especially when you don't know how to soothe the skin.
What is your current treatment? Has your treatment evolved? Are you satisfied with it?
I'm currently on a biological treatment and I am very satisfied with it. It is an injection that I get every 3 months. It doesn't make me tired, it doesn't make me feel sick and it's something that has really helped my psoriasis calm down and go into remission. I started with coal tar and different creams and oral tablets. Those were all difficult to use and I needed to take them on a daily basis, so my treatment has really evolved. Now I'm in remission and often don't even think about my skin.
How is the disease evolving? Where do you stand now?
I would say that with all the new research going on, and also starting my new Instagram page, plus learning about holistic ways to take care of my skin, I think that I live well with psoriasis. There is a lot of information out there for people to take care of themselves in a healthy holistic way.
What impact does psoriasis have on your professional and personal life?
Psoriasis really impacted my personal and professional life. Starting from the jobs I chose to the people I chose to date and to the clothes I chose to wear. Psoriasis is an all-encompassing condition. It affected every aspect of my life when it was flaring, and I had red scales all over.
What do you think triggers your psoriasis flare-ups? Can you explain it?
I definitely think that stress flares up my psoriasis as well as eating too much refined sugar, not sleeping properly and not eating well. I don't think I can really explain it, but I do notice when I have a few bad nights of sleep or I'm in a really bad headspace that my skin becomes red and flaky and starts to flare.
Have you had to adapt your lifestyle ?
I definitely have had to adapt my lifestyle to help my psoriasis feel calm which means that I have a daily meditation habit and I work out on a regular basis. I eat a very healthy diet which consists of whole foods. I take vitamins and probiotics. I also make sure that I get a lot of sleep. I avoid alcohol and instead drink lots of water. I make sure that I do things that make me happy and help me feel good and bring a lot of joy into my life. I also date people who understand that I can get sick at times. To be sincere, I tend to be careful when I'm choosing to spend time with people, so I have adopted my lifestyle in all different ways.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to continue to take care of my health and grow into a healthier person every day. I want to continue learning about skin and taking care of my skin and my psoriasis and making sure that I'm also providing this information to my community and other people who may not know where to start.
You advocate for psoriasis awareness. Why did you decide to do so? Could you tell us more about your website?
I started advocating for psoriasis awareness during the worst flare-up in my life. I was unable to work, I was unable to do much, except lay in bed. That's when I started browsing Instagram and started finding other people, who were living with the condition. That inspired me to start sharing my own journey. As time went on, I realized that many of the things that I was learning in my wellness and health professional life, as a mindfulness and meditation teacher, were all so relevant to people living with psoriasis. I met a lot of people who face similar obstacles to me. So I thought it would be a great way to use my voice and my platform to advocate and educate, as well as empower and inspire other people living with psoriasis worldwide.
Finally, what advice would you give to Carenity members also affected by psoriasis?
The advice I would give someone also affected by psoriasis is that they don't have to do it alone. Seek support in all different ways whether that's other people living with psoriasis, whether that's finding a dermatologist who is suitable for you, going to therapy, finding a nutritionist, seeking the support of friends and family. Don't do this alone! Open up! Talk about it! Share how it's making you feel and when you need help don't be afraid to ask for it.
Any last words?
You are so much more than your skin and although this is a part of your journey so many things make you – you. Embrace all parts of you with love and acceptance. You are so deserving of that.
A big thank you to Reena for this interview!
Did you find this story helpful?
Click Like and share your thoughts and questions with the community in the comments below!
Take care of yourself!