There was a time when psoriasis suffocated my life and held me hostage with its stigma and shame. The disease often made me feel alone, isolated, and enslaved. It took a community to rescue me from the mental and emotional penitentiary psoriasis held me in.
Years ago, I met my very first online psoriasis mentor through the National Psoriasis Foundation’s One-to-One Mentor program. For the first time in my life I was able to speak with another person who understood my struggles and could relate to me. Slowly, with the help of my mentor, the holding cell of shame and embarrassment psoriasis once presented in my life slowly started to fade away. Eventually with the help of support groups, advocacy efforts, and sharing my own story I was free to live a life of empowerment, encouragement, and strength. Check out five ways mentorship in the psoriasis community is imperative and why you should consider finding one for yourself today.
“When we share our stories, we open our hearts to allow others to share their stories. It gives us all the sense that we are not alone on this journey.” — Janine Shepherd
1. Mentors have been there, too
If someone is a psoriasis mentor, it means they have triumphed over some of the worst struggles you can image while living with this chronic illness. They have dealt with rude comments from others, fought with insurance companies for treatment approval, and learned how to cope with the mental anguish of living with a visible disease. Most likely, they have been through it all and through the sharing of their stories you will find a place of hope.
“Small support could accomplish a big dream.” — Mohammad Rishad sakhi
2. They offer encouragement
It could be as simple as wearing shorts to flaunt your spots for the first time, or finding the right swimwear to sport at the beach. Your psoriasis mentor will also give you the encouragement you need for the most difficult times in your life with psoriasis. Your psoriasis mentor will give you courage to keep pushing when you feel at your lowest.
“Being alone is very difficult.” — Yoko Ono
3. You won’t feel alone anymore
Psoriasis is a very isolating disease because no one wants to talk about it. Lots of people living with the disease will hide it in the summer, avoiding activities where they might have to show it, and avoid any conversations involving the disease. Lots of people want to forget they have it. Psoriasis mentors will remind you, you are not alone. They will connect you with others living with the disease, refer you to support groups, and make you aware of the latest happenings in the psoriasis community.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya Angelou
4. You’ll have emotional care
Have you ever had a bad day with psoriasis, and you felt your friends and family just couldn’t relate? They may not understand why you had a panic attack while getting a manicure, due to fear of someone judging your spots. They may not get why you decide to wear long sleeves in the summer. Psoriasis mentors will understand, know exactly how you feel, and give you the words you need to make it through whatever troubling time you are facing.
“Help others to see themselves better than they are until they believe.” — ATGW
5. Mentors will help you see parts of yourself you didn’t know existed
Through my mentor’s strength I could see my own. Hearing her speak about her struggles and how she overcame them gave me hope, that I too, could overcome similar hardships. I discovered I was much stronger than I once thought, and speaking with a mentor can help you to see the power within yourself to be bigger than this disease. The next thing you know you just might be the mentor helping someone else live their best life with psoriasis.
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Alisha Bridges is a freelance health writer on the topics of sexual health, skin care, and psoriasis. She has lived and thrived with psoriasis for over two decades. Alisha is the creator of www.Beingmeinmyownskin.com, a site dedicated to sharing what it’s like to live with psoriasis. She is also a student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a physician assistant with a concentration in dermatology. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @alishambridges.