True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

How Depression Almost Destroyed My Life

True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

The ugly, dark, and destructive beast known as depression entered my life two years after being diagnosed with psoriasis, which was just months prior to receiving my diagnoses of fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis.

For years, I refused to acknowledge it because I knew that my doctors, friends, and family would then blame my physical pain on depression and not on my diseases. Did depression increase my pain levels? Yes, but it was not the source of my pain.

Sadly, ignoring it only made it worse.

On a killing spree

Depression is deadly. It kills everything in its path, and, if given the opportunity, it takes the life of the one it consumes. It killed my relationships.

I refused to discuss my emotional status with my doctor because the first time I did, he acted that was the source of my physical pain and refused to focus on the true sources.

It kept me from discussing my life and feelings with family and friends because I didn’t want to hear that I just needed to get out more or to put on a smile and cheer up. Depression destroyed my social life. Controlling conversations so that I wouldn’t have to share any personal information become tiring.

Not being able to keep it up, I stopped taking calls, answering the door, and leaving the house. I avoided social media, with the exception of platforms that my friends and family weren’t on. Then in the summer of 2012, this wretched and disgusting beast almost took my life.

The end of the rope

Because I had become so good at hiding my feelings and emotional pain in public and by hiding out at home, nobody, not even my husband knew just how bad off I was. As I was nearing my breaking point, I shared with my husband that I wanted to die. Okay, it wasn’t actually sharing; I screamed the words at him.

Poor guy didn’t know what to say or do. He didn’t see this coming even though it had been boiling inside of me for ten years. I misinterpreted his initial silence as approval when it really was just shock. So I went beyond thinking of ways to end my life and began plotting my death.

Before I took the final step, my husband, who I now know was also depressed because of the financial mess we were in, shared some bad news. This is what finally spurred me to reach out to someone. I stormed into my pastor’s office, blubbering and unable to speak coherently.

After I calmed down, he listened and sprang into action by immediately addressing our most pressing needs. From there he counseled us and helped us see that our problems, while big, weren’t unsolvable.

Knowing how I had treated my chronic illnesses in the past hadn’t worked, he also encouraged me to take a path that I had been debating trying. For years I allowed the stigma of how I now treat my illnesses keep me from going that route. I thank God every day for the push my pastor gave me.

The never-ending battle

My depression began to lift as I began making changes to my treatment plan, went for counseling, and learned to better communicate with my husband. In the course of almost six years, I have gone from being a prisoner of depression to having the beast locked in cage.

But he’s a tricky fellow and every once in a while he escapes. Thankfully between therapy and the changes I have made in my life, I now have the strength to tackle him and return him to his cell. He will never leave me, he will always be there whispering in my ear.

However, I am no longer his victim; instead, I am a survivor who will never give up fighting for my life.

If you are battling depression, please seek help. You are not alone and no problem is unsolvable. If you are considering suicide please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Don’t Have to Ruin Your Love Life

True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

The physical and emotional effects of psoriatic disease can put a strain on even close personal relationships. The thick patches of red, dry skin caused by psoriasis and painful, swollen joints associated with psoriatic arthritis make intimacy challenging. But there are things you can do to have a satisfying sex life.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) usually occurs in people with skin psoriasis, but it is possible to have one autoimmune disorder or the other.

About 15 percent of people with psoriasis develop PsA, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

In a 2015 study by the National Psoriasis Foundation, nearly one-third of people said that their psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis interfered with their love life.

Physical Pain Is a Major Concern

“Arthritis can cause physical discomfort and limitations,” says Ana-Maria Orbai, MD, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, who specializes in arthritis and rheumatology.

For people with skin psoriasis, skin inflammation can cause pain and bleeding and affect how a person experiences sex.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women with genital psoriasis “have more significantly impaired sexual function compared with either those without genital lesions or those with lesions elsewhere in the body.”

How the Conditions Affect Self-Esteem

While the physical symptoms can be quite painful, an even bigger challenge for many psoriatic patients has to do with self-image. “A lot of the issues arise because of poor body image and self-worth,” says Dr. Orbai.

A common concern for people in new relationships is appearance. “This can be very important to people and impacts how they feel about themselves, and whether they feel judged or not,” says Orbai.

Issues of self-esteem and self-worth related to skin conditions can lead to avoidance of intimate situations even in long-term relationships, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Psychology, Health, and Medicine. How a person deals with these feelings can be very different depending on age, personality, and gender.

“Sometimes men can be insecure about their skin and try to overcompensate with their performance,” says Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in private practice in Daytona Beach, Florida, and a medical adviser to CreakyJoints, an online patient community for people with arthritis.

“Some of my male patients take erectile dysfunction drugs, even though they don’t actually need them, because they are feeling insecure,” says Dr. Domingues. “They want to make sure that they can perform.” According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, men with psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing sexual dysfunction.

If you have active plaque psoriasis it can definitely mess with your confidence. Couples in established, long-term relationships feel less insecure about their condition, according to Domingues. “For a new relationship though, the prospect of revealing your body for the first time can be pretty daunting,” he says.

Communication With Partners, Loved Ones, and Doctors Is Key

When you are ready to discuss your condition with your partner, be open and honest. Be ready to answer any questions, because they may not know much, if anything at all, about the disease.

“You need to accept who you are right now, and so does your partner,” says Domingues.

Don’t be shy about reaching out to friends and family when you are experiencing negative feelings about yourself and your condition, says Orbai. “How a person makes use of their support network and relationships is important as well,” she explains. “This includes not only your relationship with your significant other, but also your family and your healthcare provider.”

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, doctors treating the medical symptoms of psoriasis don’t necessarily talk to patients about its effects on their personal feelings and body image. If you want emotional support and advice from your healthcare provider, you may need to initiate the conversation.

Weighing the Emotional and Mental Effects

“The emotional impact is really challenging,” says Orbai. “Many times, people think the problems are mostly physical, but what I hear a lot in clinic and in my research is that the emotional impact is even larger than the physical impact,” she says.

A 2010 study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that psoriasis patients were at an increased risk of depression and anxiety, and 2014 research in the Journal of Rheumatology found the same to be true of people with psoriatic arthritis.

First and Foremost, Find the Best Treatment for You

Of course, getting the proper treatment for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is critical to managing the disease’s effects. If the condition’s symptoms are under control, the effect on a person’s personal life and relationships can be significantly reduced.

As Orbai puts it, “If your disease is controlled and you are almost back to your normal state, the condition should become less relevant.”

Remember, says Domingues, “there’s a good chance this will get better with treatment.”


Psoriasis sufferer wears a dress for the first time in a DECADE

True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

Published: 10:34 BST, 31 July 2019 | Updated: 15:19 BST, 31 July 2019

A psoriasis sufferer whose body was covered in red patches has worn a dress for the first time in a decade after finding a treatment that works.

Kirsty Crook was diagnosed with the condition in 2010, after noticing a patch on her forehead, which in time spread across her scalp, face, back, legs and groin. 

The now 31-year-old hit rock bottom because cruel strangers told her she looked as if she had been burned in a fire or feared she was contagious.

Miss Crook, from Liverpool, would wear a full face of make-up just to go to the shop and lived in tracksuits.

Her love life was destroyed as she felt too embarrassed of her constant shredding and bleeding skin, and she even quit her job in the NHS due to poor mental health.

She also developed psoriatic arthritis – where the immune system attacks healthy tissue and causes the joints to become swollen and stiff. 

But now, after finding an injection treatment that has soothed her skin and made it more manageable, she is determined not to let her condition ruin her life.

Kirsty Crook, 31, has worn a dress for the first time in almost a decade after finding a treatment which manages her severe psoriasis 

The condition left 95 per cent of Miss Crook's skin covered in leopard- spots. Her leg is pictured before and after starting treatment 

Miss Crook said shaving her legs for the first time was one of the best days of her life. Pictured, her leg and one of its worst stages 

Miss Crook has found an injection treatment that has soothed her skin and made it more manageable. Her hand is pictured before and after starting the treatment six months ago

She said: 'I would never go out wearing shorts, skirts, dresses or short sleeves. I'd even wear long sleeves in the summer because I would be so worried about people being judgmental.

'People came up to me and asked if I had been in a fire, and a lot of people would say, “I'm not touching what she's touched because it's contagious”.

'I'd do everything to cover it up. I'd put loads of makeup on to hide it even if I was just going to the corner shop. 

'I got to wear a dress for the first time in 10 years this summer. I felt a princess because I usually go out in a tracksuit or jeans.

'I could shave my legs without them bleeding. That was one of the happiest days of my life.' 

Miss Crook, who quit her job in management referral for the NHS two years ago, said her nightmare began a decade ago with a tiny mark on her forehead.

A year later, in the winter of 2010, she was officially diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition affecting around 85 per cent of sufferers. 

Psoriasis causes the skin to become red and irritable. It affects around 650,000 people in the UK, including former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.

According to The Nation Psoriasis Foundations, more than 8million Americans are affected.

Over the next five years, the dry red skin lesions, known as plaques, gradually spread over Miss Crook's body until 95 per cent was covered.

Miss Crook's nightmare began a decade ago with a tiny mark on her forehead (pictured)

In the winter of 2010, Miss Crook was diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition affecting around 85 per cent of sufferers. Pictured with psoriasis on her face

The psoriasis soon spread over Miss Crook's face and scalp (pictured)

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin and sometimes the joints.

Around two per cent of people in the US and UK suffer from the condition.

Psoriasis occurs when a person's skin replacement process takes place within days rather than the usual 21-to-28 days.

The accumulation of skin cells builds up to form raised plaques, which can be flaky, scaly and itchy. 

Psoriasis arthritis can occur in the joints near affected skin, causing them to become tender, swollen and stiff.

Anyone can suffer, but psoriasis is more common in people in their late teens-to-early 30s or those between the ages of 50 and 60.

Psoriasis' cause is unclear. Flare-ups can be triggered by stress, skin injury, hormonal changes and certain medications.

It is not contagious and there is no cure.

Treatment focuses on managing symptoms via topical creams, gels and medication.

Source: Psoriasis Association  

Aged 30, she was also diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis – a long term condition which develops from psoriasis and can led to joints becoming permanently damaged.

Up to two in five people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which get progressively worse.

Miss Crook said: 'When I got those first patches, I was under a lot of stress. I had been working three jobs and then I broke up with my boyfriend of three years.

'But after five years, it was so bad that nothing would get rid of it.'

Miss Crook has tried everything from prescription creams and phototherapy, which involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light under medical supervision, to methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug.

Nothing seemed to have much of an effect.

Miss Crook said: 'All of my left leg was covered in blotches, from my groin to my toes.

'It was on my back, front, face, scalp and even in my ears, which still affects my hearing.

'They are angry, red raw blotches and you can't get away from it.

'I couldn't go swimming because of the chlorine, or wear perfume because it was an irritant. I couldn't even shave my legs.

Miss Crook was forced to quit her job in the NHS two years ago because her mental health suffered so badly. Pictured during a flare up

Miss Crook said: 'They are angry, red raw blotches and you can't get away from it'

For the past six months, she has been having fortnightly injections of Amgevita, which is helping her skin to improve. Pictured, her leg before and after

'The heat was especially bad. It'd be so itchy that I'd feel I had ants crawling all over me, while in the winter it would crack and bleed to the point where I couldn't lean or sleep on it.'

Also battling the pain of her arthritis, on her worst days, Miss Crook could scarcely get bed.

Eventually, two years ago, she hit rock bottom, and was forced to give up work because of the profound affect her ordeal was having on her mental health.

Miss Crook, who is currently single, said: 'It really knocked my confidence, and I needed constant reassurance from everyone in my life, which isn't healthy.

'It's affected my romantic relationships and dating life in particular.

'I try not to stay at people's houses because I'm so paranoid about bleeding on the sheets.

'When I take my clothes off it's it's been snowing because of all the dead skin. I get embarrassed and feel guilty.

'Because it is also on a private part of my body, again I need that reassurance.

'I've been single for a few months and I feel if I met someone, I would have to tell them what I have and let them know I understand if they don't want to stay. Although having said that, I've never met anyone who was bothered by it.' 

For the past six months, Miss Crook has been having fortnightly injections of Amgevita provided by the NHS.

The biological medicine is used to reduce inflammation by acting on the immune system. 

Amgevita has only been available in Europe for the past year or so, and is used for people with severe arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease where other drugs have failed. 

It appears to be treating both her arthritis, and improving her skin. Miss Crook said she is feeling in a much stronger place mentally compared to two years ago.

Miss Crook has tried everything from prescription creams and phototherapy, to methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug. But she has finally found a treatment that is working

Miss Crook said she 'felt a princess' when she finally wore a dress this summer. She is pictured with psoriasis on her face

Miss Crook has started sharing videos and pictures on Instagram, finding a community of psoriasis survivors who turn to her for advice on things makeup 

She said: 'It takes a long time to become comfortable in your own skin – and some days I'm still not there. But I want people to look at me and see that I'm still smiling.

'People were telling me that I looked well and had a healthy glow. It's amazing because nobody had said that to me before.

'It is now manageable so, I feel really excited about the future and what I might achieve.

'After the injection I will feel knocked out for a couple of days but then after that I will feel a ballerina or that I can run a marathon.'

Miss Crook has been unable to return to work yet. But she has started sharing videos and pictures on Instagram – finding a community of psoriasis survivors who turn to her for advice.

She said: 'I would put up little videos of me doing make up and people would ask me to tell them about myself.

'I thought I had not seen much about arthritis in younger people, or psoriasis so I wanted to share my experience and how I cope.

'It really opened my eyes. Lots of people messaged me saying they had the same, and that seeing me share my experience had given them more confidence.

'I share with my followers if I'm having a bad day or struggling with my mental health. I'm never fake. 

'Things will be thrown at you along the way – but you keep fighting and you will get there eventually.'

You can follow Miss Crook on Instagram @kirstycrook_29. 


I can’t have a normal life because of my skin condition

True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

The dilemma I read your column about a 16-year-old suffering from depression and I’m stuck in a dilemma myself. I’m 16 and I have lots of friends. I’m suffering from a skin condition – it’s not BAD, but sometimes I wish I could live a “normal” life my friends and family.

That I could have my first real boyfriend, go out with my friends or even just go to the park when it’s raining so I can enjoy the wet weather. I keep forgetting to tell myself that I can’t enjoy these things because there’s not one day I can step home and not cover my skin with jackets or even wear dresses. I’m afraid of ending up lonely for ever.

It would be nice to spend time with someone who knows what I’m going through and not run away. I have more friends now than I ever have before, but they don’t know about it because I’m afraid it will ruin everything.

How can I enjoy life knowing that I’ll never be classified as “normal” because of my skin condition and not be depressed about it when I wake up in the morning or hang out at school with my friends?

Mariella replies Who’s normal? That’s the first question you need to ask yourself. There’s a brilliant autobiography by Jeanette Winterson called Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal? The title is a quote from her mother, instructing her as a young girl on what her priorities should be.

Whether you’re a lesbian Winterson, a science nerd, have psoriasis, are shy, too tall or too small, are sporty or lazy, all of us face challenges in accepting who we are – the blemishes, the idiosyncrasies, our sexuality and how to come to terms with that identity. When you are young, fitting in is an overpowering impulse, but as you get older you discover that being a maverick is even more fun.

That’s not to say that I don’t understand why you are feeling lonely and sad. I had eczema pretty badly until I was in my mid-20s and I have no trouble recalling how ashamed I felt about those angry rashes all over my body and how hard I’d try to hide them.

It’s not easy to step outside your own experience, but it doesn’t hurt to create your own relative scale of suffering. Think of all the things that could be happening. At your age, Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan nearly lost her life simply because she wanted to go to school. You could be a kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirl in the hands of Boko Haram, an Ebola orphan in Liberia…

You’re better off than them, as the person causing you the greatest harm is you – which does make it easier to resolve.

You are the harshest judge of your own skin and the longer you hibernate, gazing out the window at the world passing by, the more you allow a pesky skin complaint to hijack your life.

It feels immense to you, but it’s low on any scale of human suffering. Don’t let it hold you back.

At your age your hormones are going crazy and a superficial skin complaint adds to the feeling of being an ugly duckling.

In the nicest possible way I need to tell you that you’re not unique; everyone you hang out with will have secrets they’re ashamed of, or feelings they worry about.

As for losing your friends if you confide in them, you can’t really count them as friends until you have at least tested them.

The interesting thing about people is that you only discover their potential when you call out to them for help. I used to look wistfully at girls with perfect golden skin when I was a mixture of red sunburn and white patches from where the cortisone cream had done its work, feeling a Dalmatian, but without the canine cuddly appeal.

It seemed so important to appear flawless until I realised that the most significant flaws are not usually the visible ones. You say you’ve read and agreed with my column about insecurity and depression often afflicting teenagers your age.

An awful lot of the time you’re experiencing these extremes of emotion because you are so vulnerable to the judgment of others and so fragile about your own worth. By your own admission your skin condition isn’t “BAD”, though even if it was I suggest you wouldn’t lose friends over it.

Acquaintances are wont to drop away with a variety of excuses but true friends don’t give a damn about a dermal problem. You might even find friends confiding in you more if you allowed yourself to open up to them.

Then you’d see that your worries are echoed by so many others, not with the same symptoms but plenty of other confidence-crippling afflictions, real, imaginary or over-exaggerated.

You clearly have the soul of a poet, with your dreams of running out to embrace the rain, and I want to encourage you to act on the spirit of those impulses. There are few rewards to be reaped from sitting at home cowering in your bedroom.

Everybody has an achilles heel – at least yours is treatable. The world will accept you with open arms, the moment you accept yourself.

If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to Follow Mariella on @mariellaf1

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I Got Rid Of Almost All Of My Psoriasis — Here’s How You Can, Too

True Story: Psoriasis Almost Destroyed My Life

I have something that will never go away.

IT WON’T GO AWAY!!! No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many creams I put on it, no matter how much weird shit I do to it, it will never go away.

It might leave one part of my body, but it just goes to another part of my body, moving around, completely impossible to catch. I will basically be playing wack-a-mole for the rest of my life with my own skin.

2. What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is little red dots or slight coloration that sometimes flake that appears on your skin.

According to science psoriasis is your skin cells growing at a rapid rate, faster than the surrounding cells. It is you are Wolverine, your skin grows back quicker than normal, but un Wolverine, it doesn’t return to a pristine Hugh Jackman state of perfection.

Instead it is red and sometimes even flaky.

Scientists believe, but aren’t sure, that psoriasis is caused when the immune system overreacts to something it considers toxic, which makes the skin cells grow faster.

3. I first started getting psoriasis around the age of 26

It was when I worked at a steakhouse as a cook. I was eating a lot of beef and white bread because it was free. Somebody would mess up a steak or burger at least twice a day, and boom, I had a free meal. I ate beef and white bread almost everyday for two years. Not a good choice.

Red spots starts showing up around my eyelashes and above my lip. Then they started flaking and getting gross, then it started in my hair, little crusty bumps. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have health care, so I couldn’t go to the doctor. And it wasn’t that bad.

During the next summer I played a lot of basketball outside with no shirt on and it went away. Getting a tan apparently makes psoriasis disappear. But I was also thinking, oh it goes away in the summer, who cares.

I went back to college and started drinking black coffee twice a morning and feeling stressed out. I think the black coffee and stress made the psoriasis return. During that winter it got really bad.

The red dots became huge and dry, it felt my skin was made of rocks. I kept putting lotions on it recommended by some of my female friends, all of which contained alcohol and fragrance, which actually made it worse.

When I would reach up to grab things, the dots would crack and bleed.

At this point, I was still putting the wrong products on. It kept getting worse and worse. Then the worst thing happened. I had to take two math classes in the summer at 8 in the morning, which lead to me drinking more black coffee and being super stressed out because I hate math.

Seriously, I actually cried twice alone in my room doing those stupid math problems. The psoriasis then grew on my legs. I had a psoriasis spot as big as a baseball on my thigh. I had dots all over, on my chest, back, legs, ankles, my hair, had tons of crusties.

My elbows were destroyed, everyone was commenting about it. I was a walking disaster.

I made the decision I had to fix it, it had to be done. I spent over 50 hours researching psoriasis on the Internet, I found forum after forum, comments on products, personal experiments, dietary programs, people talking about taking vacations to the Dead Sea. It saved me, to know there was a community out there, going through the same thing.

I was doing multiple regression analysis in statistics class at the time and learned, to ascertain an answer from a thousand different opinions on one thing, you have to figure out what all the opinions have in common. Basically this is what the opinions said: don’t eat and drink garbage, don’t use lotions with fragrance and alcohol, tan, and tar.

See, I was a person who loved garbage food. I was raised on garbage food. My mother is a master of garbage food. I grew up drinking three cans of soda a day, eating a bag of potato chips, drinking black coffee, eating a candy bar, ice cream, and I probably threw in some cheese somewhere. The typical American diet.

I was really scared to eat differently — actually scared. How could I ever live without disgusting food and Pepsi on a daily basis?

Then I had to tan. I had spent my life making fun of people who tanned, and especially men who tanned. But I came to enjoy it. I find it so relaxing, I fall asleep now when I tan.

I changed: I started tanning four times a week, bought lotions without fragrance and alcohol and new shampoos. I stopped eating so much garbage. I lost 15 pounds in three months. Think about it this: if you lose 15 pounds after you stop eating garbage, that means 15 pounds of you was garbage — 15 pounds of your body were cells made of garbage food.

After three years of changed habits, my psoriasis has almost all disappeared, and what is left is barely visible. I still see it in the mirror almost everyday. I stare at the red colorations on my face, and just fucking hate my life. But I think most people don’t even notice it anymore, and to my surprise, no girl has ever been bothered it.

I am still very embarrassed by it.

Last summer I went hiking with a girl and it was 110 degrees, and she kept telling me to take my shirt off, and because I still have some on my stomach, I wouldn’t remove my shirt when we were hiking, and I just looked stupid and weird. And when we made out, I wouldn’t let her stick her hand under my shirt. It took two months before I let her see my stomach. And she didn’t even care. So, yeah, it bothers me.

4. Here’s my diet and the list of products I use:

Nothing sold in a convenient store, all that is garbage.

No beef or cured pork.

No white bread.

Coffee that’s diluted with an inch of milk. When I’m at home, I use coconut milk.

IPAs and hard ciders are the only alcohols that don’t trigger my psoriasis. I have read online other people who say IPAs do not cause outbreaks either. If I drink a Bud or Coors or whiskey, my skin gets bad immediately.

I drink one to two cups of detox tea a day.

5. Shampoos

NEVER let a shampoo with fragrance touch your scalp. This includes Head and Shoulders.

Buy MG217 tar shampoo. Do not buy the generics, spend the extra money.

Buy Dermarest and its generics

Alternate between those two shampoos throughout the week. My scalp is completely clear now.

If you can get avocado oil, cover your scalp with it and leave it on for an hour, then wash out. Your scalp will feel really good after that.

6. Body Lotions:

Nothing with fragrance or alcohol.

Use only Aveeno and Eucerin. Their generics are okay.

Apply Eucerin or a generic form three times a day.

Psoriasin Gel, apply on an area three times a day. But do not go into the sunlight after, or that part of your body will look a zombie.

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