My Story - How My Skin Condition Does Not Define Me

Corin Psoriasis Management Story

 Written by: Corin Carpio

 

“The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life.” 
Dr. A. R. Bernard

This quote has definitely become one of the best pieces of advice I’ve come to live by. This mindset, along with my faith, has helped shape my relationship with my physical body - how I should care and treasure this gift. 


Bringing it back

I was about 15 years old when I started noticing red, flaky, and itchy spots around my body. The spots were appearing on my arms but I thought they were just rashes that people my age would get due to change in seasons or hormonal levels. However, after a few weeks passed by, they increased in numbers and grew significantly bigger, eventually spreading throughout my back and legs. That was when I started to think of the skin condition my older sister, Arvie, has (see her story here) since she already has psoriasis, I knew what they looked like as I would help her put medication. Although I was still quite unsure if I truly had this same chronic skin condition, the possibility of it made me feel two things. I felt scared as having it meant I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. But somehow, I found meaning in this condition as it meant that I would be able to journey with my sister so she would not have to carry this burden on her own.

Corin Psoriasis Management Story

I was about 15 years old when psoriasis would have already started  appearing  


After getting assessed by a dermatologist, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis. I was fully aware that there was no cure for it and this means management long term but to hear this for myself suddenly felt like ‘judgement’ has been cast on me. Although it didn’t take long for me to accept it, I was still very oblivious to how bad it could actually be. 


From bad to worse

Living with psoriasis hasn’t been all that bad for me. Sure, I would love to have the freedom of wearing singlets, short sleeves, and shorts in the middle summer’s scorching heat but I’ve learnt to deal with wearing cardigans and jumpers to any activity that involves the outdoors -  beach, road trips, and hiking trips; you name it. It wasn’t until February 2016 when we went out with some family friends to go blueberry picking and what started off as a fun hang-out ended up with me running to the backseat of our car, bawling, because my entire body was extremely red, peeling uncontrollably and felt like it was on ‘fire’. 

Corin Psoriasis Management Story

Blueberry picking with my family


To this day, I’m unsure what exactly triggered it. Maybe it was the blueberries, the dust in the air, what I ate that morning, or all of the above, but I remember exactly how it made me feel - depressed and disgusted at myself. For the next couple of days, I stayed home in hopes that the Psoriasis would calm down. I wrapped my entire body in ointments, leaving it on from day until the evening. My hair would constantly be tied up because the heat from the body wrap in addition to the summer heat would be unbearable otherwise. I would soak in salt baths for about 15-30 minutes every night, and would have evening showers. 


That event marked the beginning of my struggle against self-acceptance. All the wrong habits I had - such as late night sleeping, eating unhealthily and very little exercise- together with New Zealand’s chilly winter nights and drying summer heat, made it difficult for me to cope with Psoriasis. I’ve developed thickened nails and face and scalp as well which worsened due to academic pressures and eventually, work stress. Slowly but surely, I realised that I was actually buying into the idea that “my skin can’t change, therefore I can’t change as well”. It was only until early 2021 that I decided that enough is enough. I want to make positive changes in my lifestyle and stand by the absolute truth that my circumstances do not define my worth and my future.


Renewal of skin; renewal of mind

Exercise: This was the area of most difficulty for me. I tried going to gyms a couple of times but I found out that walking and jogging suited me. I started with 15 minutes per week, which improved to three  times a week and sometimes would even last to 20-30 minutes per session. I’ve also included dancing to the mix, which I try to incorporate in other events in my life to make exercising more enjoyable! #KPOPISLIFE


Food: I love food; sweets and sodas in particular. I used to treat sweets like my main course and soda like water. Now, sweets are pick-me-ups after a long day at work and soda’s are reserved for a dine-out with friends and family - at least most of the time. Vegetables are my best-friend, and I would order vegan or vegetarian dishes instead of my previous go-to’s like fried food and saucy meats. Surprisingly, I didn’t know I could say this, but I don’t miss the ‘pre-veggie’ life! 

Corin psoriasis management story
One of the best seasons my skin has ever been

Skin maintenance: I used to just be satisfied with leaving my body scratched and all, but now I make a conscious effort to seek out general practitioners’ help and see if there’s anything new in the market that could help ease my Psoriasis flare-ups. I don’t tend to use ointments for daily use. I find various organic skin care products that work for my skin type and condition for maintenance and use prescribed ointments for flare-ups. 


De-stressing: Stress not only contributes heavily to Psoriasis, but my physical body as a whole. I have extremely tight neck and back muscles even if I’m only in my early 20s. Now that I’m able to work and earn money, I try to get body massages once and in a while. I’m also building on good habits such as reading Christ-centered books as a way to de-stress and remind myself that I am loved and created for a special purpose. Psoriasis does not define me. 



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