I experienced my first flare-ups in fall of 2011. I was in my junior year of college and suddenly I noticed that I had something on my scalp. My head was itching like crazy. It was ridiculous. I went to a dermatologist and they told me it was possible that I might have psoriasis, because it's in my family. My mom has it -- in fact, unfortunately, hers has developed into psoriatic arthritis, and she has days where she won't even get out of bed, she's in so much pain. My mom's mom had psoriasis, too. So genetically speaking, I guess it made sense that I would have it. Or at least it wasn't a big surprise.
But I was upset. No doubt about it. I saw what my mom went through with her disease, so I'm thinking, "Am I going to have to deal with that now?" So many things were going through my head -- none of them good.
After a day or so of trying to cope with this new reality, and trying to accept it, I kind of just did what I had to do. I went out and got the soaps, the lotions, and tried to live with it. And as time went on, I tried as much as possible to forget about it and not let myself get all worked up.
For whatever reason, it hasn't been as bad recently as it used to be. Granted, I still get a rash here or there. I'll have an itchy scalp every couple of weeks, but I've learned more or less to control it and not allow it to ruin my life or stop me from what I want to do.
I was lucky, in one sense. The day I found out that I had psoriasis, I was frustrated, upset, so I left my house and went over to friend's place. I told him what was going on, and after listening to me for a while he said, calmly, "Oh, really? I have that, too."
I was flabbergasted. "What?" But he just rolled up his sleeve and he showed me then and there that he had a breakout. He tells me, "I deal with it. You know, that's just life sometimes."
And it wasn't like he had little spots, either. He had full skin rashes, but his attitude toward what he was going through -- he was positive about it, or at least accepting of it -- helped ease my own frustration. Right there, I was able to move on.
I know this sounds like a cliché, but if someone came to me today and said they'd just been diagnosed with psoriasis and wanted advice from someone who had lived with it for a while, I think I would simply tell them, "Look. I'm okay. If I can do it, so can you."
It's just something that I go through, and I deal with it on my own terms as much as I can. I do not allow it to interfere with my life, or my lifestyle, or what I like to do. You don't have to allow it to run your life, or even be a main factor in your life.
For example, I wouldn't put in my Twitter bio: "Tony, music writer, psoriasis owner." You know what I mean? It's not central to who I am.
Right now, I'm a part-time music writer for a couple of outlets, including Vibe, and I also work promotions for a major media group in Miami -- four radio stations that are huge down here and have been around for a long, long time. I love my job -- both of my jobs -- which means I'm busy pretty much all the time. There have been times where I'm so into my work that I neglect to just sit back and relax. And we all know that stress can be a huge trigger for pretty much anyone with an autoimmune disease.
But in the end my attitude is that I can't let my psoriasis affect me to the point where it stops me from doing what I love, because that's just going to set me back more than it's going to push me forward. And that's something I won't accept.