The eye of the storm

It’s a funny one, anxiety – it can come at you in many different ways and often catches you completely off guard. I suffered my most recent bout of it just this weekend – and it sure loves to try and ruin you whether you like it or not.

We’re all different. It can affect you in many different aspects of your life – I find it picks at your insecurities. It’s nasty like that.

Anxiety isn’t just about giving you that nervous anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach. For me, I can often feel it coming on. Think of it like a swirling storm brewing in the distance, and you can see it getting closer and closer but you can’t run away from it. You can run for cover for a short while – find some shelter and shut it out – but eventually it brings down the walls and you hit the brunt of it. I have suffered from depression in the past – and I’m so proud of myself for saying ‘no’ to the doctor when she offered me anti-depressants – and the fight or flight feeling you get with that is very similar. Once you get it you just have to ride the storm and fight to come out the other side.

For chronic pain sufferers, anxiety seems to make everything seem 100x more painful too. Every ache and pain, every movement.

It also makes you imagine the worst scenarios in everything. I hate being any form of centre of attention – and sometimes the anxiety can be so bad I genuinely get glued to my seat I can’t even walk across a room, worried that people will be looking at me. Sounds stupid I know.

I spent the weekend with my my closest friends celebrating one of them gettting engaged. With a whole long exciting weekend planned, filled with celebrations and spending the weekend all together, It got to yesterday afternoon and that’s when I hit the eye of my storm. I suddenly felt so so overwhelmed and my back and joint pain increased by what felt like a million percent. I started scenario planning and playing out the worst case scenarios in my head – for no apparent reason to the average person. What if my joints inflame even more and I have to spend the next few days bedbound? What if my spine locks and I can’t walk?

We’d been out since midday and it had got to about 5pm and the night was still to come, with everyone planning on staying out for at least another few hours. My ability to focus on just having a normal conversation was flailing and all I wanted to do was hide away, curl up and have a cry. Again for – what seemed to everyone else – no reason. Eventually, I physically couldn’t hold the tears back anymore and had a bit of a breakdown between walking from one bar to the next. At that point I had to call it quits and give in. Wayne took me back to our AirBnB place in a cab and we made a quick exit. I was truly embarrassed and felt an absolute failure. All I could feel was pain and humiliation. What a drama queen. How rude for just leaving without saying bye to everyone. All I kept worrying about was what everyone would think and I was just getting more and more upset. I’m bloody thirty for God’s sake… who just loses it out of nowhere?! Time for home – for peace and quiet, a cup of tea, a cry and a hug and everything started to feel a little better. Wayne just knows what to do when I get low like this. Just being there, giving me a cuddle or a knowing look is sometimes all you need to feel more calm, more safe and secure and less lonely in it all.

A few hours later everyone else came home and we had a great evening – very chilled with some crappy tv, pizza and silly games. I soon forgot for a little while how shit I had been feeling.

It really one of the most draining feelings, and all I can do is write about it here and keep positive; build back up my walls and wait for the storm to pass – because it absolutely will.

Joey

xXx

It’s a silent ‘P’

Psoriasis.

Pronounced ‘sore-eye-a-sis’. SORE is one word to describe it. Itchy, flaky, niggly, dry, patchy are just a few others. Psoriasis can show in many forms but, in essence, it’s a skin condition where (usually small) scaley patches of dry skin appear on your body.

It’s an immune system disease which causes the over-production of skin cells, suffered by 2% of the population. It’s known to be passed down genetically (my mum also suffered with it once in her younger years) and can be set off by a number of varied triggers from stress to infections and so on.

I was diagnosed with Psoriasis in 2013, aged twenty five. Whilst my mum did also have it, I actually put it down to the amount of stress I was under at the time. I generally don’t deal well with stress – at all. Any sign of it and I’m poorly; it’s like my body finds an excuse to not deal with it. I’ll reflect more on work/life balance and stress in a future post, but for now let’s focus on the Psoriasis.

It can be a nasty little fucker and really affects my self confidence. Sometimes I can get teenie tiny spots of it – perhaps on my elbow or on my side or my back and it doesn’t affect me too much. Places it can be easily hidden.

But every now and again it appears on my head. That might sound like nothing. Easy to cover you might think. Sure. But we’re talking blood, puss (ugh gross, sorry) and flakes of skin all over your head. When you touch it, it’s sore; when you wash it, it stings; when you brush it, it’s irritated. The really bad pics on the left hand side were taken in 2013 when I first got Psoriasis. The one on the right – taken in February of this year (2017) it came back a little, and crept on to my face too.

 

The really annoying thing is that there’s no ‘one treatment suits all’ cure. It really depends on your body and how it reacts. Some people can shift it easily, others not so much. But here’s how I found some of the different treatments out there and what triggers it for me…

  • See a dermatologist – I did try this – along with steroids, steroid creams and shampoos, but nothing seemed to make it budge.
  • Go to your GP – again, for me, steroids and creams didn’t help here, it just seemed to aggrivate it more.
  • Change your shampoo – this soothed it for sure, but didn’t get rid of it. The best shampoos to soothe your scalp are parabenScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 18.21.29 and sulfate free. You should also make sure that it’s sodium chloride (salt) free, minimising any harsh actions on your scalp.  When your scalp is that sore and has open wounds, scalp-treatment and tar-heavy shampoos (for example T-Gel) will cause pain I can assure you.
    The best shampoo I’ve found to help soothe and reduce irritation is this badboy – Klorane shampoo with Peony. It smells gorge and is just the best.
    It’s not the cheapest (around £8 per bottle available from your chemist or online) but it’s worth it.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Probably the most accurate yet unhelpful piece of advice – I mean, we’d all love to be stress free. But this is my main trigger for psoriasis – hands down. Put me under any form of stress or pressure and you can guarentee I’ll have a little scaly patch somewhere by the end of the week.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol realllyyy affects my skin – from blotchyness to inflammation to spots and now, psoriasis.  I’ve never been the sort of girl to crave a glass of wine in the evening after work – luckily. BUT when I do drink socially I do love my wine… and gin… and prosecco… and – well you get the idea. Give me a couple of days or week where I have social events or engagements and here it goes again, the Psoriasis is back.
  • Be strict on your diet. It’s no surprise that what we eat affects how we function – what we put into our bodies will show on the outside. When I get psoriasis I know I have been eating either too much sugar or bread – or not enough greenage (not sure that’s a word?!). Again, all it takes is a few weeks off-focus and it’s back again.
  • Take a holiday. Now if I could take a week in the sun every time I got a new patch, I’d be broke. Obvs it’s easier said than done. But it really does do the trick (for me at least). Vitamin D is SO good for the skin and getting rid of psoriasis. It of course does wonders for the stress levels too. Get me on that sun lounger asap please!

More recently I have been flake-free which is great (putting it down to my recent holiday to Kefalonia with the mother). However I have started to see a few patches come back again. It can be hard to clear them but by knowing that I can when I put my mind to it, I’m kinda not too bothered. They’ll come and go with stress for me, so I know what I need to do to try to control it. That plus eating some more plant-based food and upping my vitamins and hopefully I’ll be back clear again in no time. Just stay away from my head… pretty pleaseeee.

Joey xxx