Mike: My name is Mike. I have psoriasis and this is a day in my life. I had issues with my scalp and then maybe a couple patches on the elbow. And the doctor then diagnosed it as psoriasis, and we started initial treatments there. Things will work for a few months at a time, and then the body gets immune, which is where I am now.
First thing I do when I wake up in the morning, I’ll take a shower, pat dry, and take my back scratcher and scratch away just to get the excess skin. Probably a couple of times a day. If I go outside and come home, before I go to sleep, it’s the same thing. Now let me show you my leg. There’s certain spots where it’s a very thin area, so when I scratch on it, it will cause bleeding. I see it and I just want to scratch at it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any better, but my hands don’t listen to me and they keep scratching and then my entire back.
Some people look at it like it’s a hygienic issue. Like, “Oh, they have all this because they’re dirty.” No, it’s an autoimmune issue. My immune system creates skin cells too quick, as if I have some type of cut, even if I don’t. Then all the excess skin is what ends up shedding off. The one thing I wish people would understand is that it’s not contagious.
This is a constant routine, I’ll do this a couple times a week. Sometimes I’ll get lazy and then my girlfriend will yell at me and I’ll clean. She motivates me to clean better because I feel sorry for her. It’s bad enough she has to sleep on a bed filled with dead skin, but luckily I have somebody that’s accepting of me and all my issues.
Stress is definitely the leading cause of it, and the problem is, life is full of constant stress. The only thing you can change is how you deal with the stress. I try to meditate and just throw on my headphones, listen to music and zone out, try to calm down, and forget about everything. Plus, I like to joke around. I could be miserable on the inside, but I don’t like to project the misery to other people.
I’m down to my last five unemployment checks and I’m not trying to wait until the end to scramble and find something. I spend 90% of my day checking my emails for anything that goes on. The one thing with having psoriasis is it’s not just the plaques that I’m dealing with. I also have psoriatic arthritis. If you could look at my hands, you could see the fingers on my left hand are much more swollen. It’s just joint damage. I can bend this finger a little bit. These two, I can’t bend it all.
Luckily, 99% of the things that I do in work will be through the computer. I can manage. Tomorrow I have a job interview at 1:30 and I have to worry about what am I going to wear tomorrow. I have to look sharp so they don’t notice the skin coming off the top of my head.
Wendy: I know it makes you nervous. I think this one would go better with the suit.
Mike: The blue one? I kind of like the blue.
Wendy: He goes through challenges. Right now, his skin has been the worst ever.
Mike: As long as I have a cotton tee shirt underneath, it kind of covers it. But if I put on a wool sweater with nothing, then it’s going to be… Then I have hell to pay.
Wendy: Emotionally, I try to motivate him when he has the major breakouts, letting him know that he will get through it.
Mike: In the beginning, I was always very leery on who noticed the plaques and the psoriasis and everything, but over the years, I’m more worried about the discomfort that I feel than the discomfort that other people looking at it feel. Hang in there, and learn to live with it. Hopefully, find yourself a good partner that’s going to be supportive and understanding and help you get through the tough times.