Are you a psoriasis mind-reader?
23/08/2020 - By Dr. Catherine O'Leary
What happens when you have psoriasis is that it’s such a big issue to you, you become hyper-alert to people noticing it and you imagine it’s a big issue for them.
For example I’m going out to walk my dog and it’s a sunny day so I decide to wear shorts and I bump into a neighbour who stops to talk. Immediately I feel uncomfortable and I start to guess what they’re thinking about me:
'What’s wrong with her legs?'
'That looks sore.'
'She looks disgusting.'
'Is it contagious?'
And that makes me feel pretty rubbish about myself. I feel ashamed and embarrassed and I want to hide away. And the next time I walk my dog, I wear trousers.
The feeling of shame is so horrible that over time we avoid situations like that and learn to hide away. We wear long sleeve tops and thick tights. We choose light coloured clothes so the flakes don’t show. We don’t go swimming. At parties we try to stand with my back to the wall so people can’t see flakes on my shoulders.
But here’s the thing I can’t read people’s minds. I don’t know what my neighbour is thinking. I don’t even know if they’ve noticed my skin. So what if I’m wrong?
What if instead they’re thinking:
'What a lovely dog?'
'Should I get a dog?'
'What are we having for dinner?'
'Oh I need to get home or I’ll miss the start of that show.'
'I wish I’d done my hair before coming out. I didn’t know I’d see so many people.'
If they were thinking that then I would feel okay about myself. I wouldn’t feel ashamed. I wouldn’t need to hide away next time.
And so I have to remind myself, I’m not a mind-reader. I can’t do that. I can’t assume people are being critical of me. I don’t judge other people so why assume other people are judging me?
And at the end of the walk I’d still have psoriasis. I’d still wish I didn’t have psoriasis but I wouldn’t feel so ashamed of myself. And that would be nice.