Today I’m sharing with Poosh my journey with the autoimmune conditions psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, including what’s worked for me and how I’ve adjusted my life since being diagnosed.
Even though I always grew up with my mom having psoriasis and hearing her talk about her struggle, I really had no idea what my life would be like dealing with an autoimmune disease myself.
It’s been 13 years since I experienced my first psoriasis flare-up. My journey has been very different from my mom’s, but I see so many similarities as well. She had it in her scalp and all over her body, and I’d see it all the time and remember her going to the tanning salon to try and ease it. Getting UV rays directly on the spots really helped my mom. For me, however, that remedy would burn the areas and cause them to itch, so I always felt helpless. I am the only child my mom passed down her autoimmune issue to. Lucky me, lol.
When I was 25, I had my first psoriasis flare-up. I got a common cold, and since psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, this triggered it. It was all over my stomach and legs. Luckily, in my apartment complex at the time, my neighbor was a dermatologist. I showed it to him, and he said to come into the office and he would give me a shot of cortisone and then hopefully it would go away (since it was my first big outbreak). I did this and my psoriasis completely went away for about five years.
However, it came back again in my early thirties.
At the time, I wasn’t sure it was psoriasis. I was living in New York—I will never forget it, since it was our DASH store opening in November. I was wearing this glitzy sequin dress from our store to the opening and I came home afterward and was itching. It seemed like it came out of nowhere, but I thought that my skin was just sensitive toward the dress’s material, so I didn’t think too much about it. And then I came home to LA for Mason’s first birthday party and my mom looked at my leg and said it was definitely psoriasis.
This is when my real psoriasis journey began. For the past eight years, although the spots are unpredictable, I can always count on my main spot on my right lower leg, which consistently stays flared up. I have learned to live with this spot without using any creams or medication—I just deal. Sometimes I cover it up and sometimes I don’t. It doesn’t really bother me.
When I got pregnant both times, it fully went away. That was amazing, but then it came back again. Earlier this year is when it got extremely bad—it covered my whole face and a majority of my entire body.
One night, I woke up to use the restroom and I physically couldn’t pick up my phone. I thought it was strange but maybe I just slept on my hands weird and I was so tired, I didn’t need to be checking my phone at that hour anyway. I fell right back asleep.
I woke up that morning and I still couldn’t pick up my phone. I was freaking out—I couldn’t even pick up a toothbrush, my hands hurt so badly. I had worked out the day before and we did an arm day, so I thought maybe one of the exercises strained my hand. It didn’t cross my mind that it could be anything serious. As the day went on, I got a bit more movement in my hands, but they really hurt from the inside—I felt it in my bones. Everyone assumed it was just my workout, but I knew this felt different.
I let two days go by and I remembered I had to fly to Vegas for Jimmy Kimmel. I was so uncomfortable the whole time because my hands were in so much pain. I felt miserable.
After I flew home, I went to the doctor because then I thought I could possibly have rheumatoid arthritis. I knew I felt the pain in my bones, and after I Googled the possibilities, I was beyond scared.
I had my blood tested for all possibilities, and it came back positive for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. I immediately started to cry and felt so lost. You really can get in a crazy headspace when you think you have something. My doctor said I could have a false positive, and he wanted me to come back.
I went back three days later, which felt like the longest three days of my life! It turns out those tests were a false positive and I did not have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. I had psoriatic arthritis. It’s similar to arthritis that can stem from psoriasis and it can come and go. It’s still painful and scary, but I was happy to have a diagnosis. No matter what autoimmune condition I had, I was going to get through it, and they are all manageable with proper care.
I did so much research. I realized so many people I know have suffered from lupus and psoriatic arthritis, and they have given me such great advice.
Before the arthritis hit, I spent about four months doing everything natural—every ointment, cream, serum, and foam you can possibly imagine and everything from the dermatologist. I even tried an herbal tea that tasted like tar. I tried celery juice for eight weeks. Then I’d do celery juice mixed with the tea. I would do that twice a day. I was just exhausted by everything. I changed my diet to plant-based (which I still follow).
I received daily packages from everyone claiming their cream would be my cure. Even packages from Israel! I also got a light machine at the house that I started using. So I was doing the light treatments plus the creams and tea. I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I physically couldn’t move my hands. I remember I had a press day for my Carolina Lemke sunglasses and I was wearing these purple boots and snake-print pants and I couldn’t get my pants down to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t even get my bra on that day, and I had to have someone dress me because the pain was so unbearable. With the boots I was wearing, my ankles started to feel it in those joints. That’s when I knew it wasn’t just an issue in my hands, it was a bone problem.
Below I’m sharing pictures at different phases of my psoriasis journey.
I’ve become extremely comfortable with my psoriasis. No matter where it is on my body, sometimes I am fine with showing it off and other times I don’t want it to be a distraction, so I cover it up with body makeup.
If you have psoriasis, you can’t let it ruin your life or get the best of you. You have to do what you can to make sure you are comfortable but not let it take over.
I live a healthy life and try to eat as plant based as possible and drink sea moss smoothies. With all the stress in life, I try to make sure I take time for myself so that I am centered and keep my stress to a minimum.
I hope my story can help anyone else with an autoimmune disease feel confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.