I was first diagnosed with psoriasis back in 2000 when I lived and worked in Hong Kong.
The first time I noticed it
t It was on a warm and sunny morning while pouring myself a cup of coffee that I first noticed a couple of red patches around my knees. The patches looked a little like eczema, but I didn’t think too much of it and got ready for work as usual. But as the days went by I saw more patches appearing on my knees and elbows. That’s when I decided to see a dermatologist who quickly came to the conclusion that I had psoriasis.
t How can he be so sure so fast? I thought to myself. I asked him over and over again if he was 100 percent sure about it; he shook his head and said “Yes, yes it is psoriasis.” He then gave me a prescription for a steroid cream and told me there was nothing more he could do.
Educating myself about it
t That was it. No further information. Just me, feeling numb and scared about what was happening to my skin. Here I was in a foreign country, with a doctor who barely spoke English and a skin disorder I had never heard of. Luckily, I am blessed with my mother’s resilience, so after 10 minutes of feeling hopeless I did what anyone diagnosed with an affliction does: I went online and educated myself about it. And the more I learned about psoriasis, the more I felt in charge.
t I read everything I could find about psoriasis: how about 10 percent of the population inherits the genes but only 2-3 percent develop the disorder. How stress, medications and skin injuries can be main triggers. How it is basically the immune system that goes out of whack and produces skin cells at a super-fast rate. The result is what you see on the surface of the skin; raised, red plaques covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells.
t I made it my own business to find a solution to the problem.
t Fast forward to now and though I still have occasional patches of psoriasis popping up here and there, I am free of it most days of the year. It does get worse in the winter because of the lack of sunlight (I now live in Brooklyn) but I know how to keep it under control. The best thing I have done to help my psoriasis is learning to relax. Flare-ups usually appear when I am stressed out or eat badly so I do plenty of yoga to keep my core strong and focus on eating healthy. My morning ritual is a fruit smoothie with almond milk and ground flaxseed, followed by a light lunch and a big dinner (still healthy!). I do yoga in the afternoon and make sure to get plenty of sleep every night.
t What I used to see as an affliction has now become a blessing in a strange way; the way I see it, the only cure to this disorder is to be as healthy as I can be! I have no choice but to stay slim, exercise, eat well, sleep well and relax if I want to keep these red and scaly plaques away. And if one does pop up I see it as my body reminding me to be kind to myself.
t And you know what? I can live with that.