My name is Yvonne, I’m a 40-something full-time employee in a public sector and a happily married mother of two, living in Manchester, UK. It hasn’t always been this way though – I’ve cried many silent and public tears over psoriasis. I want to share my story with you and give a brief insight into my psoriasis world.
How my psoriasis started
My mother tells me I’ve had psoriasis since I was a baby and it all started with a little line under my eye. My earliest memory was going into the hospital in the centre of Manchester and having my hair cut very short before I went in, crying out loud and wanting to go home. Staying at age 3 in a strange place for a month wasn’t easy but must have been even harder for my mother. My mother remembers “All you could see was the whites of your eyes. You were all covered head to toe in bandages”. A similar pattern occurred on and off throughout my childhood. Psoriasis has helped me to build my resilience and positivity.
In my early 30’s I got pregnant with our first child – and my psoriasis had cleared completely. I was happy to have a healthy baby boy. Post-birth period was horrendous as my psoriasis came back. The flare-ups were some of the worst I’ve ever had to date. I cried and cried in private – I dreaded the looks from the other new mums offering me advice. I was pregnant with the second child within four months which was an absolute shock to us all. My psoriasis completely cleared once again but after the birth of our beautiful baby daughter I noticed a few more spots appearing.
Just at the 10th week of pregnancy I suddenly lost my brother and watched my mother having a treatment for a rare form of cancer. This was probably the trigger to another horrendous bout of psoriasis which didn’t really clear for the next eight years. I mixed night feeds with psoriasis creams every few hours to avoid the pain of burning sensations and I hated every minute of it. Secretly it was very depressing but I was very good at hiding my true feelings, even though I had a great circle of friends.
My top lifestyle tips to fight psoriasis
As part of my psoriasis journey, I wanted to document and share experiences and learn tricks and tips from others, and I’ve started a blog FattyVonVon. It’s growing slowly and had a blip when my father died, but now I’m back and that’s how I found PsoHappy. I’d like to to share with you my 5 lifestyle changes that have helped me with my psoriasis:
1. Try out meditation. One day at work a colleague of mine spoke to me about a new weekly program to try out that has completely changed my outlook on life and my psoriasis. I finished the course and started on a meditation path that helped me make some lifestyle changes for the better. This wasn’t immediate but over a few years. There are many meditation techniques out there that can help you to cope with stress. You can try to access the meditation lessons on the internet as well as mobile apps. I’ve used these myself several times and I truly believe that relaxing your body can help you to improve your skin condition too.
2. Start exercising. I gained weight and I tried all the A-Z diets but never stuck to them. Joining a gym however has made a real difference to my life. Circuit training, fitness classes and healthy eating has helped me to lose 17 pounds in just 4 weeks and my psoriasis has started getting better. I’ve had a few blips but my journey continues. My advice is to start small – you don’t have to run marathons but staying active might have a significant effect on your health and skin.
3. Watch your food. I changed my eating habits – I’d been vegetarian for 20 years but I used to change the meat to comfort food – crisps, bread, cheese and even I knew should eat healthier I didn’t stick to it. My personal trainer tailored food packages for me and I made a decision to eat the meat again. I know you can eat very healthy as vegetarian and it’s up to you whether to eat meat or not. Most importantly follow a balanced and healthy diet and limit the processed and fast foods.
4. Learn to love your skin. I’m not fully there but the journey has been fabulous. I used to dread spring – it is the trigger point for my psoriasis and the summer anxiety starts. Even though sunlight might improve the psoriasis symptoms for some, you probably know how it feels to show your flare-ups in public. I’m a glass nearly full girl though, and I like to enjoy life. Anxiety might only worsen the symptoms and instead of hiding and being self-conscious about my skin – I’m learning to love it.
5. Healthy mind = healthy body. I’ve lost around 31 pounds and I still have a way to go. I will continue my journey for healthy mind and healthy body as I truly believe this is what helps keep my psoriasis clear. I lost my stepdad early this year which was horrendous. Psoriasis has come back slightly but adopting a healthy body and healthy mind really helps me. I believe the exercise and healthy eating are the only ways to keep my psoriasis at bay. Using natural products wherever possible and reducing my stress level are crucial.
I’m not preaching to you that you must adopt all of the above but these are the five key steps that really helped me with my psoriasis journey. I still have psoriasis and will always have it but hopefully I can live with my skin a lot better.
A happily married mother of two, Yvonne Campbell lives in Manchester, UK and works full time in the public sector. In addition to being a fully qualified workplace coach, mentor and Mental Wellbeing Champion, Yvonne blogs regularly, sharing her love of life and honest insights into living with psoriasis. Yvonne holds a BSc degree from the University of Salford.