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Side effects. Friday March 28, 2014

I was reminded the other day of what our tenacious bodies go through as they endeavor to contend with the everyday, and sadly, how little I will thank, apologise to or love my body in return.

At a routine hearing test, the doctor drew a short intake of breath as she popped an otoscope into my ear and looked at the mess within. She said: 'That must feel intolerable!' It was said with such empathy that my eyes welled up. The doctor was referring to the psoriasis inside my ear. (It covers my head too and it started over 20 years ago, when my cat was run over; it's never left me since. Fudge's parting gift.) It's not something I give much thought to (apart from the infernal itching), my case is relatively mild but still, it got me thinking.

Sometimes, symptoms that stem from sadness, or depression, can be as vexing and challenging as the depression itself. Take psoriasis for example - it is skin cell production in overdrive. Skin cells are normally made and replaced every 3 to 4 weeks but with psoriasis the process is sped up to every few days. It reflects well the interminable, anxious pathways that my brain traverses each and every day.

Films often portray this malady as belonging only to unhygienic individuals (always accompanied by halitosis it would seem!). It's distressing enough without having this stigma attached. Here is how a potential conversation could roll:

'Oh wow, is it snowing outside?!'
'No, I don't think so?'
'But you have'

There are other physical complaints, some embarrassing, that result from poor mental health, aren't there? IBS, shaky hands, insomnia, weight loss, weight gain, excess sweating and other skin conditions.

That acknowledgment, that validation, by Rosie, the doctor above, made me feel sad for my body. I'm not talking of self pity here, oh no. I simply mean that it helped me feel a little more self compassion for myself.

If we look at just one side effect that is symptomatic of a bigger picture, it can, just maybe, help us to see what our bodies and minds are contending with as a whole. This, in turn, can help us want to be more nurturing of ourselves.

Writing this post, the quote by Henry Maudsley, a psychiatrist, was brought to mind: "Grief that has no vent in tears may make other organs weep." Given that the skin is an organ, those words could surely be a definition of psoriasis.

In conclusion then, the next time you observe "snowflakes" on either yourself or someone else, try to see them for what, in all probability, they are - visible, tangible evidence of someone's deepest emotions, sadness and fragility. Looking at it from that standpoint, one will see only beauty and feel only sensitivity.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 5:52am

Thanks for your openness on this one - my family also suffer from psoriasis - believe it's related to the gene for eczema and hayfever - and the worse you feel, the more you get - I'm getting the idea that life is a tad unfair ...

I'm sure you know many things that can help .... but not for long, so you have to ring the changes - latest idea is lemon juice, salt and olive oil. I'll add some garlic n herbs and make up enough for salad dressing ... at least I'll be eating healthily ...which should assist!

That's a beautiful quote from Henry Maudsley - thank you.

Moodie x

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 7:33am

Just "thank you" - for an honest and brave blog. It is a good reminder of how physical and mental health are inter-linked.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 7:38am

From right this moment I am stating to treasure my psoriatic flakes, just as my tinnitus is really the sound of the earth rotating

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 7:52am

Oh Suzy, thank you so much for this post.

I have relatives who developed psoriasis when a close family member died unexpectedly. Their life was difficult. My own father died of a long-term illness when I was three, photographs indicate the change in my posture. I have been told that my rounded shoulders are my body's defence to deep and unexpressed sorrow, this has led to long-term spinal problems which are now acute and painful.

So yes, I agree, our bodies work in tandem with our emotions and reflect our feelings. Often without us being aware.

I once moved house and had acute stomach cramps in the days before. They were very painful but undiagnosable. Years later, I realised it was a move I knew I should not be making but I repressed my concerns and they manifested physically.

It's as though my body insists on manifesting the emotions that I am denying last, I am beginning to honour my feelings and trying to avoid blinkering myself. In my case, I believe it is linked with my HSP but I don't think it's exclusive to highly sensitive people.

Thanks again for your post Suzy.

Ingrid Gooch Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 8:15am

Thank you so much for that Suzy. It's beautiful and compassionate, and so true.

Tere Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 8:33am

This is the most eye-opening blog I've read in a loooong time, thank you. This makes so many little things I've noticed about myself make sense. Plus, looking at friends with serious depression (I notice that seems to be all of my friends: like to like, as it were) have small physical problems that nothing can make better, and I because of this blog, I can mention to them, AGAIN, about Moodscope. This one blog is so worth the time I spend everyday taking the test. And I won't be so hard on myself for minor physical problems that I never had before coming to my attention. Thank you. I bet you've opened up a LOT of eyes!

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 8:46am

When Jon left Moodscope I was depressed for quite some time and felt abandoned, as his blogs had been a lifeline to keep me afloat through the low times. However, over the recent months the blogs and quotes have been of such a high quality - this one especially touched me. Moodscope now has a quality of mutual support that has enhanced it's effectiveness. I am sure Jon is proud of how it has evolved.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 9:32am

Thankyou for sharing. I broke out in Psoriosis when my job became intolerable and my brain "broke" that was 7 years ago and I'm not recovered.
I take out how I feel on my body.
Thanks for reminding me how inter connected we are. Body soul spirit.
Lovely post suzy.


Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 2:20pm

"Don't be a cry- baby " is a common and very unfortunate comment. - which I believe tends to dwell deep in the subconscious of many people. Tears actually
contain a 'poison' which we need to release when we are sad.

Mary Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 2:43pm

This is a really touching post, Suzy; thank you so much. I remember when my therapist taught me not to judge people who are vastly overweight. "Just consider what might have happened in their lives that they have to overeat in order to cope." she said. Having gained 25lb through comfort eating in the last 8 months of grief following the death of my uncle I feel even more guilty for any judging I might have done in the past. There is truly no separation between our mind and body. I wish you well with your condition (not going to try to spell it here). Thank you again for a lovely and helpful post.

Julia Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 3:56pm

I always think people who have psoriasis are the nicest, kindest people.

Richard Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 4:21pm

Suzy, your blog is probably the bravest I have read. This morning, " Imagine " played on the radio. I had no qualms opening the window and turning it up pretty loud. I just wish people's ignorance about others and their problems had an "off" position.
Please keep writing.
Peace and Love, Richard.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 4:57pm

Oh dear Suzy, how awful, what a legacy your cat left. If you cat could talk it would be the last thing it would have wanted for you and how painful too. I assume you have been to specialists? It is not always an obvious thing for us to do. The docto invariably says nothing and we just trust the doctor. Of course you must demand a specialist if you have not seen one. There are many things that can be done and used to alieviate and stop psoriasis. I had odd patches of something coming up on my skin and the doctor (a male!) just looked and grunted something, gave me something which made it worse. I happened to try Ibuprofen gel that I had about my person and, well the problems stopped. Whether it was me taking care of me or the ingredients I care little. I do hope you find something becasue I assure you there is something out there or inside you that can change that.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 5:59pm

A friend of mine is adept of auto hemotherapy. After six months of weekly care he is now seeing first results.
Silvia A

Julia Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 7:57pm

I love "Imagine" and all the lines you often quote Richard.

David Jarvis Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 8:46pm

Great blog.
I find that the more I focus on my own imperfections the more I see imperfections in others, and that isn't how I want to look at people or the world.
It just shows that how we view ourselves has a pervasive influence on how we see the world. I'm not sure it's possible to separate them.
I'm trying to learn to accept myself more.
I agree with a comment above about how great these blogs are and the Moodscope community. Whenever a person shows their vulnerability it is so attractive and beautiful to others, maybe because we see the emotions and vulnerability we all share underneath.

Suzy Fri, Mar 28th 2014 @ 10:38pm

Wow folks. All your comments have moved me in no little way today. Hearty thanks to each and every one of you.
;oD xxxxxx

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