Stress'll Do It
by Kathy

Ed: Thanks for a very informative page on psoriasis. It sure is a "psori" (pun intended) thing to have to put up with in this life. I really do think it is hereditary. Grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle, most of the cousins, and some of their kids in our family have it. I only pray that my young 14-year-old son can escape the heartache it brings.

I also am FIRMLY convinced stress DOES play a part in it. I had only a slight case of it for years (light in scalp, on elbows only) until I started losing babies (5) to a genetic problem, faced Alzheimer with my mother and went through the death of all four of our parents -- all within 16 years. I went to a stress reduction class, and was told that unless I could ease the stress somewhere (I registered 150 when 50 was normal) that it WOULD come out in some way physically.

Well, I now have a full blown case of psoriasis and fibromyalgia and all the ills that attend them. "Ease the stress" is easy to say, another thing completely to actually do it! I am overweight, but it has never bothered me anywhere NEAR as much as psoriasis. I no longer enjoy swimming, or even wearing shorts, and since I HATE the heat (made worse by long clothes), I now hate summer as well!

I have a wonderfully supportive husband who even looked up psoriasis on the net before I did. However, since this last outbreak on my stomach, I do not even want HIM to see how bad it is. It really doesn't bother him, except that he sees how upset it makes me. ANYWAY, thanks for a great site! Will continue to pray for a cure! -Kathy

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Ed's Response:

Dear Kathy: Sounds like your family is a strong case for the hereditariness of P. Even if stress wasn't a factor in your case, chances were good, based on P's prevalence throughout the family, that you were going to be a victim, too. How about using that point-of-view as a stress-reducer?

One of the things that makes any possible connection between psoriasis and stress so insidious is the Catch-22 aspect of the relationship: Psoriasis may be triggered by stress; then, when it's triggered, we get stressed about the psoriasis! On the other hand, there's so much in life to be stressed about, it's a shame to get worked up over something beyond our control.

Fatalism isn't usually a virtue, but when it can be used as means to accept the inevitable, and thereby reduce some stress, I think it's okay. We should feel sorry for those poor psoriatics who have no evident genetic proclivity. They're the ones with reason to scratch their heads and wonder what THEY did to bring it on (even though they probably did nothing extraordinarily hurtful to "become psoriatic").

Almost every psoriatic I've listened to recounts changing dress habits as either "painful" or "stressful." It was both of those things for me, too. I used to be one of those white-collars types who REFUSED to wear long-sleeve shirts, even in the dead of winter. Now you won't catch me in a short-sleeve shirt, even in the dog days of summer. Then, one day I realized nothing fundamental had been changed about my relationship to clothes. My "before-psoriasis" fashion sense had been unfashionably eccentric, and now my "post-psoriasis" fashion sense is unfashionably eccentric, too. It occurred to me, I enjoy eccentricity in either of these manifestations. (I especially enjoy the savings I accrue buying long-sleeve casual shirts when they're out of season!)

Nor do I enjoy summer any more than you do. However, there's an upside to this psoriasis-related summer funk, as well. Think of all those poor people who get depressed in the fall. You and I? Hell, we relish the anticipation. -Ed

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