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the same milk tea two years later | reflecting on myself

“Would I be friends with the person that I was two years ago?”

I ask myself this question as I walk up to a cafe I haven’t been to in two years. The first time I tried this milk tea, I wasn’t too much different than I am now. The first time I went here, I was in a nasty depression-anxiety cycle because I was undeniably terrified of studying abroad in Hong Kong alone, which meant I had to make new friends, live in a new place, eat new food, and leave my core group of friends in the States for two months. Over the weekend, I felt that same nostalgia of being sad walking in. As you know, I’ve been struggling lately, but somehow ended up being at the same place where my depression brought me two years ago.

The cafe itself is exactly the same. The tea tastes exactly the same. The same employees are there. Nothing has changed on the menu. It’s still a bit overcrowded and tables are placed randomly alongside a walk-up coffee bar. But it made me think about how a place can stay the same and the people can change within it. Everyone goes about their life, visiting the same places, but not as the person they were–but as the person they are now. And every time you visit a place, you leave your mark there as the person you were in that moment, and you’ll never be the same person in the same place twice. Life is beautiful and scary and ever-changing.

2017

When this photo was taken, I’d just been through a breakup. The breakup was toxic and hurtful. I completed a summer job, and felt comfortably financially. But mentally, I was not well. I numbed my pain in faking who I was online. Everything had to be curated. I couldn’t go anywhere without taking a picture and posted an edited photo. I spent so long editing this one that I stressed about the likes, hoping they’d reach a certain number. I escaped myself by becoming a “lifestyle blogger” trying to keep up with the ones who’d been doing this because it was their passion for years. (See my self-image story) I’d just deleted my high school Instagram to rid myself of the photos of my ex and I, instead of just taking the time to delete him away. On top of trying to keep up with appearances, the stress of obtaining a travel visa and the fear that I was going to hate Hong Kong caused my skin to begin to “breakout,” and I was starting to get itchy all over, but didn’t know how to control it.

Now, I’m in a much better place. I’ve been getting in touch with my faith. I’ve shifted my focus in what I want out of life and blogging. I’ve been discovering new coping mechanisms for anxiety and my depression. I’ve been enjoying outside more. I’ve been reflecting more. I was feeling so alone for the past few weeks, but yesterday, everything seemed to change. I reconnected with friends. I found happiness yesterday in reaching out for help, instead of being embarrassed about it. I went somewhere new (see celebrating #nationalicecreamday in d.c. with jeni’s!) and I feel like that relieved the fog that I had over myself for the past few weeks. I’ve accepted that I am no longer able to work because of my disability. Instead of letting it destroy me, I’ve been searching for some online opportunities, like applying for artists grants and signing up for affiliate programs. (I signed up for three last night! *Fingers crossed*) While I’m not perfectly content with where I am, I know I have room to grow, but I think I already have in small ways.

2019

To answer the question above, I do think I’d be friends with the person that I was two years ago, but I’d just worry about her. I’d worry about her because of the scars on her arms and her constantly teary eyes. I’d worry about her because her head would always be down. I’d worry about her because she seemed to smile all of the time, but never tell me how she’d feel. I’d tell her that she is not her Instagram feed, and that she is allowed to struggle even if her Instagram doesn’t show it.

*While writing this post, I just received an affiliate program offer! One that I was holding my breath on and really hoping I’d get it because the company because I really respect what they do and the services that they offer. I’ll tell you more about it when all of the forms are finalized!*

Comment down below a place that you visit often (or maybe not) and have noticed growth in yourself!

I am now taking submissions for guests posts on this blog! So, if you have psoriatic arthritis, a disability, chronic illness, or struggle with your mental health, I want to hear from you! DM me on Twitter or drop me an email at thepsoriasisclub@outlook.com, if you’re interested.

Love always,

-TPC

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Life with Psoriasis

my (morning) disability routine: blogging, movies, and medication!

Not every day is exactly the same when you have a disability. But for me, it’s easy to fall into a routine. I find routines to be very comforting and safe. It gives me a sense of pacing and grounding in my life. When my routine is thrown for a curve (such as when I was in school or when I recently went on my graduation trip–where most things are very spontaneous–I find that’s where I begin to struggle. My routine is not glamorous, or Pinterest worthy, or aesthetically-pleasing. My routine consists mostly of trying to get through the day and onto the next one. But it’s mine…and I’ve accepted it.

Photo by Ioana Tabarcea on Unsplash

6:30 a.m.

My mornings usually begin a little something like this, minus the cat (I’m allergic + also afraid). For the past week, I haven’t been sleeping in. Instead, I’ve decided to take advantage of the morning. After graduation, I began sleeping in until 10 a.m. after going to bed at 3 a.m. I quickly realized that this was not benefitting me, so after my graduation trip when I received my job, I started waking up around 4:30 a.m. Since then, I’ve quit my job for my health (you guys seem to really gravitate to this post) and now I let my body wake up naturally. Usually around 6:30-7 a.m. with no grogginess. However, I do wake up with joint pain every morning and have to wrap myself in my heated blanket until further notice!

7-9 a.m.

I treat my blog, like a job, which then provides structure and routine for my day. After spending a little time pinning on Pinterest and responding to any DM’s or blog comments I may have gotten while I was asleep, I jump right into making my blog post for that day. When I had previous blogs in the past (I used to be a lifestyle blogger right before I got sick two years ago, but quit because it felt unauthentic), I planned every post. Now, I wake up and decide that day. I use Pinterest for inspiration sometimes, but I try not to put the pressure on myself to fit in with what everyone else is writing. I don’t focus on SEO or keywords. I write what I feel.

The first thing I do before writing a post is creating a blog graphic. I use Canva, and have for years. Their interface is incredibly easy and I like their wide range of social media templates, fonts, and colors. *This is not sponsored by Canva, but maybe one day! :)* I then choose any photos I’d like to use from Unsplash (a free photo website where photographers upload beautiful images that are perfect to use for either blogging or social media! No cheesy stock photos here!) After the blog post is written, I spend about another hour scheduling tweets on Hootsuite. I find Hootsuite to be the most effective for me because I can easily copy and paste hashtags from the previous day’s blog’s with their content calendar. Hootsuite also has a mobile app too, making it easier to post tweets if you’re unable to spend time promoting blog posts or other social media things. I schedule my posts and tweets for 11 a.m. EST, putting in as many hashtags as I can. Then, I schedule again for four more times throughout the day. After I started doing this and pinning my blog posts to Pinterest, I noticed my engagement increased little by little each day!

9-11 a.m.

Once everything is scheduled, I usually can relax for a while I enjoy a healthy breakfast. (see what i eat in a day or photo above) Around this time, I try to put my phone down if the arthritis in my hands begin to flare. I try to enjoy the news, but often times it’s pretty sad, so maybe I’ll watch YouTube videos. I really hate scrolling through social media because I found that I can’t enjoy my food when I do this, but it’s a bad habit I need to break.

I occupy myself until my post uploads and my tweets are sent at around 11 a.m. EST. There’s always a lot of anticipation for this. When I first started blogging (not too long ago), I’d constantly be checking my stats and wondering why no one was commenting AS SOON as my post was uploaded. Now I’ve become more relaxed, accepting comments gratefully as they come.

Photo by The CEO Kid on Unsplash

12 p.m.

From this point of the day onward, I don’t have much going on. The pain may or may not have reached a peak. Pins and needles shoot through my back, shoulders, and legs, which is why I get up so early and tackle blog things when the pain is just numbing and annoying. I take first dose of pain medication, which then makes me drowsy, and I fall asleep for about an hour. Then, the morning is over! For these past few days, the pain has been hard to endure. So I take it easy. We’re also experiencing a heat watch, which means it’s dangerous for babies, the elderly, and those with health conditions to even be outside. Frankly, I like staying on my couch. For someone with a chronic illness, this is an accomplishment for me: moving from the bed to couch as it requires to take the stairs, which then inflames my joint pain. I really only have the energy to watch a movie and eat popcorn, so I spend the rest of the day trying to tame my flares and distract myself.

I chose this photo as sort of a confidence booster for myself because often times I am called “lazy” by family members and friends for not being able to be “active” in ways people think I should be. It hurts, but I’m doing my best. That’s all I can do.

Thank you so much for reading! Comment down below one thing that you have to do every day!

I am now taking submissions for guests posts on this blog! So, if you have psoriatic arthritis, a disability, chronic illness, or struggle with your mental health, I want to hear from you! DM me on Twitter or drop me an email at thepsoriasisclub@outlook.com, if you’re interested.

I’m also thinking about creating a Twitter chat for us! Let me know if this is something you’d like to participate in.

Love always,

-TPC

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Life with Psoriasis

psoriasis q + a: what it’s like living with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis

Lately, as I’ve been writing more blog posts and trying to find others with psoriasis to connect with, I’ve been wondering if there was anyone who wanted to learn about psoriasis? I am always more than happy to provide my experiences on treatment, mental health, and my journey. But, I was beginning to feel like maybe I wasn’t answering the questions that those without psoriasis wanted to know. Luckily, Unwanted Life guided me, and gave me questions to answer to bring awareness to psoriasis + psoriatic arthritis! Thank you so much for this. 🙂

What’s the difference between having really bad dry skin problems and psoriasis?

The biggest difference is that psoriasis causes your immune system to weaken, whereas dry skin can just be caused from the soap you’re using, your environment, your diet, and stress levels. Dry skin may cause a little bit of flaking and minor pain. Dry skin is relatively the same across the board. With psoriasis, there are different types that all vary in levels of pain, treatment, and damage to the skin.

What are the different kinds of psoriasis and how can they affect you?

There are several different types of psoriasis! Just so I don’t share any incorrect information, here are the definitions as stated on The National Psoriasis Foundation website (psoriasis.org)!

  • Guttate Psoriasis:

Guttate psoriasis appears as small, round spots called papules [PAP-yules] that are raised and sometimes scaly. Guttate lesions usually appear on the arms, legs and torso, with rare cases forming in the scalp, face and ears.

Guttate psoriasis often develops suddenly and may appear after an infection like strep throat. It is a good idea to consult with your health care specialist to be checked for strep throat if you have guttate psoriasis, as that infection can occur without any obvious symptoms.

  • Inverse Psoriasis:

Inverse psoriasis (also known as intertriginous psoriasis) shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.

Inverse psoriasis is found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in other skin folds on the body.It is particularly subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating because of its location in skin folds and tender areas. It usually lacks the scale associated with plaque psoriasis due to the moist environment. It is more common in overweight people and people with deep skin folds.

  • Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular [PUHS-choo-lar] psoriasis is characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.

Pustular psoriasis is primarily seen in adults. It may be limited to certain areas of the body — for example, the hands and feet. Generalized pustular psoriasis also can cover most of the body. It tends to go in a cycle with reddening of the skin followed by pustules and scaling.

  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Erythrodermic [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik] psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. It may occur in association with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. It is a rare type of psoriasis, occurring once or more during the lifetime of 3 percent of people who have psoriasis. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis. This means the lesions are not clearly defined. Widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin characterize this form. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it.

What treatments are available for the different kinds of psoriasis?

Quite a few treatment options are available, such as injections, oral medications, topical creams, and even light therapy (phototherapy). I have only ever used topical creams and taken pain medication for my inverse + guttate psoriasis. Treatments like phototherapy or injections are incredibly expensive, and unfortunately, I am unable to afford them even with insurance. I know that both of these treatments have to be administered by a doctor, which require weekly or bi-weekly visits. There are phototherapy kits on Amazon to use as a home remedy, but I would recommend having a doctor administer the treatments in a medical setting.

Which moisturisers do you recommend for the dry skin psoriasis sufferers?

A few posts ago, I mentioned the wonders that the Curel Hydratherapy Wet Skin Moisturizer did for my skin (see how i saved my psoriatic skin). MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Coal Tar Ointment, MG217® Medicated Conditioning Coal Tar Shampoo, and Psoriasin Deep Moisturizing Ointment . (MG217 is approved by The National Psoriasis Foundation! My Patient Navigator Emma sent me several samples from this brand!) Anything with coal tar in it is extremely effective in relieving psoriasis symptoms. I’ve had complete healing from lesions and “holes” left from guttate psoriasis. However, it is very potent in both color and smell. Coal tar will stain your clothing, bedding, and skin a greenish-yellow tint. It has spread across my clothing, leaving trails of yellow streaks on white clothing in particular. If you use any of these topical creams, be sure to wear dark clothing!

And would they work for people who just have really bad dry skin?

Possibly! Though, it may be too strong for those who have mild dry skin.

How has having psoriasis affected your mental wellbeing?

In my last post psoriasis confidence?: i’m still not comfortable with my body, I gave sort of an in-depth account of how psoriasis caused my self-confidence to plummet and even affected my perception of myself as a woman. It has mostly affected my mental state in negative ways, causing me to have a low-self esteem. I’m still on the journey to accepting my body, but on more days than not, it’s hard.

What has helped you with your mental health recovery with tackling your psoriasis?

Talking about it with people who will listen has been the most effective method to helping me recover mentally. Sometimes, even if people don’t listen, I still talk about it anyway, just so it doesn’t fester in my mind and cause a panic attack. I’ve also begun riding my bike to relieve stress and actually, this is good for when you have arthritis, because it keeps your joints moving. Yet, I’ve also found that spending time alone has provided positive and negative outcomes in healing. For example, sometimes I like to be alone where I can read and be under my heating blanket in the quiet. But other times, I need to be around people because I don’t feel safe with being alone. Overall, just talking about it and finding a community online has begun to help me.

Is psoriasis something you’re born with, like a genetic disease, or is it something that can affect anyone?

I was not born with psoriasis, but it is a genetic disorder! I formed psoriasis after years of stress and anxiety, which was enhanced by a poor diet and lack of nutrition when I studied abroad in Hong Kong. I did have “eczema” as a kid, but looking back, I think it might’ve been a children’s form of psoriasis. But I’m not too sure.

What coping strategies do you have that you find affective for living with psoriasis, so that other suffers can benefit by using them for themselves?

  • Having open discussions with friends and family
  • Researching online everything you can so it’s not as scary
  • Reaching out to NPF because they have a reassuring and kind social media team that answers any questions you have, any time you have them
  • Speaking with a trusted doctor and being honest about your mental health
  • Looking for online support groups/others who have psoriasis
  • Watching YouTube videos online about how others cope, and listening to their stories
  • Be willing to try different methods of healing (topical creams, phototherapy, counseling for mental health, medication, meditation) and do not give up if a cream or medication doesn’t work. It took me about 2 years months to find an effective treatment!

Thank you to anyone who got this far in the post! I know it’s a bit long, but I wanted to answer the questions to my best ability. Thank you again to Unwanted Life for DM’ing me these really thoughtful questions. (Go ahead and give their blog and Twitter a follow too! They’re really supportive! 🙂 )I hope this helped you, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to either me or NPF with anything that you need.

Healing from psoriasis is possible. Just talk about it. Raise awareness. Try everything. You are not alone! 🙂

Love always,

-TPC

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