(March, 1999)

Change of Life Brought P
from Margaret H.

I've just discovered this site and it is nice to be able to talk about the bane of my existence; it's such a closet subject. From what I read, I don't have much to complain about—most of my flaking is easily hidden; it's just that I am an awful picker.

I'm curious to know if anyone at FLAKE HQ has used Donovex? It was helping somewhat. Between refills (prescription ran out and I had to consult another doctor) I used petroleum jelly, which is better than nothing.

Since I did not have P until after menopause, I associated it with the change and rather hoped that taking hormone replacement therapy might alleviate it. From what I read on this page, that's wishful thinking, since people seem to get it from childhood on.

My dermatologist mentioned that sun seemed to help, and certainly my worse spots are where no sun gets—inside the ears, between the buttocks!

Well, again, it's nice to know how much company I have out there. The mentions of stress are interesting. I certainly am a believer that any stress will find an outlet in our bodies and the best thing we can do for ourselves is chill out, go with the flow, relax, and live one day at a time. The biggest stress is trying to control that which is out of our control.

It's nice to know what great attitudes the flakers have. I'm glad I found you. -Margaret H.

*****

Ed's Response: And we're glad you found us, Margaret. Anybody that still says "chill out" is OKAY in my book!

We've a number of exchanges in the Archives about Dovonex (including my own trial report). Click on Archives, on the left of your screen, and scroll down to the D's. Though I wasn't happy with the results, I hear from more people who ARE than AREN'T.

While I haven't heard or read anything that suggests menopause is a common P-trigger, it's certainly well within the bounds of imagination to see it as such. Less stressful biological phenomena are often suspected, so, why not The Change? Previous correspondent, Gaby, isn't going to like your report [see link at end]!

Sunlight does help a lot of people, but I share your sense of irony at learning about this from your dermatologist (having it, yourself, "inside the ears, between the buttocks"). Like, what are you supposed to do about it? Actually, if your derm hasn't recommended UVA or PUVA light treatments, I'm surprised (check Archives, again, for references to these therapies). You might get away with a little more exposure in the privacy of light closet than while taking a lunch break in the courtyard! ("My heavens! Is that Margaret?" "I'm afraid so." "What on EARTH is she doing? Mooning us?" "Treating her psoriasis." "She could get arrested for that." "I think she's obtained some sort of special dispensation. Don't stare, Donald; it's not polite.")

About once a year or so I have to mention again my attitude—unfortunately, that is the right word—about "stress" as the cause for P. I wrote in Flake: Confessions of a Psoriatic:

The next most common excuse I've heard is stress. Oh yeah, the diagnosis de jur of the eighties and the nineties. You and I both know that's bull-pucky. Stress is a six-letter word for life. You think you and I have stress? How'd you like to be all curled up in your cave, sweety under one arm, beloved off-spring piled up under the other, and suddenly a saber-toothed tiger decides to claim your habitat? How does that vision of stress compare to your yesterday's problems with the boss or the subordinate? (1996)

I know there is a clinical definition of stress, replete with measurable attributes, and undeniable connections exist ‘twixt it and sundry nasty happen stances, but I find it only slightly useful knowledge. We seem to forget that, as biological carbon-based organisms, we've been evolutionarily equipped to deal with stress—so much so, I wager, we could argue stress was an absolutely necessary ingredient in the evolutionary process. It may be fashionable these days to suggest we'd be better off without it, but I don't hold that opinion. The opposite of stress is lethargy and stasis.

There probably is, though, something to be said about the nature of our stress these days. We tend to get stressed for supernormal reasons. Our stress is more in our heads than anywhere else. We get stressed if the florist doesn't make it to the wedding; if a check bounces; prior to our annual performance evaluation. We let unimportant things trigger biological responses intended to keep us out of harm's way. I think most "stress" is an inappropriate response brought on by conditioning and that we have it well within our powers to simply "say NO to stress." In other words, Margaret, we can and should "chill out." P.S. - You didn't write anything to warrant the lecture, Margaret ... it was just time to give it again. -Ed

Looking Forward to Menopause

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