This is my personal story about having psoriasis. In the future, I will share more details about how I use Ayurveda, Self-Kindness and Emotional Flow to help myself and others gently address the root cause of psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions. If you are eager to get started on your own skin healing journey, consider my 3-Month Clear Skin Metamorphosis >>>.
Psoriasis Shocks Me!
Every time I look at my legs, I feel sad and shocked. Hundreds of bright red scaly patches cover my thighs, calves, shins, ankles and even my feet. No matter how austere and pure my diet is nor how many supplements I take nor what I apply on my skin, the patches grow larger. And multiply. Four of the patches are almost as big as my palm. Most are the size of a quarter.
It is like my own private horror show.
I try to be cheerful and joke that “Finally, I have my mermaid scales!”
I leave a trail of flaky skin behind me wherever I go. Embarrassing. When I get up from the couch, I turn around and brush the flakes off the cushions. Shame creeps in.
I feel like a huge failure. A fraud. Not only do my legs look S-C-A-R-Y, I am an Ayurvedic Practitioner of holistic medicine. I am supposed to be a shining example of radiant health. Though I have helped 1000's of clients heal chronic and complex imbalances, including psoriasis, the psoriasis on my legs is growing at a ferocious speed. New areas redden my elbows. My boyfriend, Cary, notices patches on my back. Two bright pink flaky spots appear on my face (eeek!).
Though it is summer and hot, I wear pants when I leave the house. Invites to a friends' pool or hot tub leave me defeated. Head literally drooping onto my chest. I don’t want to be seen looking like this. So I stay home. A sad mermaid full of despair, longing to swim. At night, my legs itch the most, all over, sometimes waking me up and always making it hard to fall asleep. Every morning I hope for a miracle, only to feel crushed when I see that my legs are the same. Or worse. I look at them constantly throughout the day. Obsessed.
That was me last year.
Now I my skin is clear and smooth.
These photos show my legs before the psoriasis became even worse (Fall 2018 - Summer 2019), then after I cleared my skin in July 2019, yay!:
How it all Started <Insert Gloom and Doom Music>
My journey with psoriasis started back in October 2018 while in Mexico. Cary and I were on week one of a 7-month Epic Road Trip through Mexico. All of a sudden, I saw 17 small pink patches on my legs. I was surprised, but not worried. Since I was a little girl, a tiny spot might pop up a few times a decade as a sign that I was off track. Usually due to stress and too many treats. With rest and extra clean foods, the spot quickly faded.
This time the spots grew bigger. Redder. Flakier. Itchier. More appeared. I grew depressed.
I felt cheated, because as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I know that psoriasis is a sign of toxins in the body, yet I have lived an exceptionally pure and healthy lifestyle for the last 27 years. That’s over a quarter of a century! I have eaten a whole foods plant based diet and practiced tons of yoga, meditation, retreats, yada yada. I have lost count, but I have probably done over 60 cleansing regimens for my entire digestive and lymphatic systems and detox pathways. I even fasted on only water for 9 days! (don't try that at home.) It didn’t make sense that I had psoriasis. I was MAD.
I Tried Every Natural Remedy with the Fierceness of an Olympic Hopeful
Of course I went into hard core problem solving mode. My nickname is Super Solution Girl for a reason. I harnessed all my Ayurvedic knowledge and clinical experience to eat only those foods that would heal my skin and avoid all those known to aggravate psoriasis. I cleansed my liver. Again. I cleansed my skin associated lymph. Again. I healed the lining of my gut. Again. I did it all. Again. ...Which was not easy while on a 7 month road trip through Mexico!
I took handfuls of herbs. I kept trying new supplements. Applying new salves, pastes and oils. I even scoured the corners of the internet for random cures, like rubbing the inside of banana peels on my legs or dusting the spots with diatomaceous earth powder, for that lovely chalky vampire look.
Since we were in Mexico, I eagerly explored Mayan medicine. Deep in the jungle of Veracruz, an indigenous grandmother invited me into her hut and warmed the succulent leaves from the jambalaya tree over a wood fire. She pressed them gently onto the patches on my legs while cooing and caressing my cheeks. I wept.
A shaman in San Cristobal de las Casas sold me long strips of bark and large seed pods that I simmered for hours, then drank three times per day. For months. On the Day of the Dead at a flea market in San Miguel de Allende, a man convinced me to try his expensive yet tiny jar of green powder.
The owner of a remote lodge helped me harvest branches from the leaves of the guasimo tree said to purify the skin. I washed and dried them faithfully, but the border guard in Guatemala confiscated the giant bag. In my broken Spanish, I explained tearfully that they were my medicine. I rolled up my pants to show him all the red patches. He looked away. And took my bag of precious leaves before I had a chance to try them. I am still sad about that.
At the end of our road trip, when we rolled back into the USA, my legs were at their worst. Now that I had access to health food stores and online shopping, I reached a new level of crazy austerity with my diet and regimen.
I won’t go into all the details here of everything I tried (stay tuned for that in future articles). Just know that if it was natural, I did it, and did it thoroughly.
Emotional Inflammation Causes Physical Inflammation
In the back of my mind, my inner guidance kept whispering reminders that I needed to address my emotional body, too. But I was fixated on the physical. Foods, herbs, supplements, topical treatments. I knew I had gone through a stressful period prior to the psoriasis, but I had relaxed a lot since then and banished a few narcissists from my life, so I should be fine, right? Apparently not.
Finally, I listened to two healers who said out loud what I had been ignoring: old emotions needed to be felt and released.
As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I always address the emotional body with my clients, often before anything else. Stuck emotions can clog our channels and create stress in the gut-brain axis, which can cause a chain of reactions that ultimately affect whatever is your weakest genetic link. For some people it may be their skin, thyroid, heart, or joints. For me it is always my skin (and my sleep, oh my sleep.)
Our genetics aren't our destiny. Stress, toxins and a poor lifestyle choices are like a switch that turns on that bad gene. While a healing lifestyle never turns on that switch. I help my clients understand the importance of releasing old beliefs and emotions and cultivating self-kindness. Was I doing that for myself? Nope. Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees!
Emotional Clearing = Skin Clearing
After the first hour of sitting gently with old despair and feelings of self-loathing, my skin immediately felt less itchy. For the first time in 9 months. The next morning, the redness diminished. Cary and I looked at my skin in awe.
Over the next three weeks, I dug in deep and let go of years of old blame, shame, anger and fear.
I inquired into how the physical manifestation of psoriasis reflected my emotions. Clearly my body was trying to release red hot anger, and was building up protective armor from the outside world in the form of very thick skin. I wanted to stay invisible and have any excuse to hide.
I reflected on old painful memories of when I didn’t stand up for myself and collapsed. The death of a beloved cousin when I was a child. That 8th grade art teacher. A former boss. A few controlling boyfriends. My own self-doubt and insecurities.
This was a somber time. I cried. I shook. I curled up on the floor of my office completely smooshed by the weight of all the feelings I. Did. Not. Want. To. Feel.
I practiced self-compassion meditation. I traced feelings back to my earliest related memories and did art therapy and Emotional Freedom Tapping. I felt the emotions somatically as simple physical sensations. I started speaking my feelings more and asking for what I need. I cultivated a new level of loving and appreciating myself.
By the end of the three weeks,
my skin was clear.
Like a magic eraser.
Where I am Now
I am still an emotional creature at times. I am still harder on myself than I am on anyone else. The key is that I have learned to feel my emotions as simple sensations with loving kindness. Everyday, I cultivate more curiosity and affection towards myself.
I welcome my emotions like old important friends.
Ah, fear, hear you are. What do you need today?
Oh, wow, there is anger. What do I need?
My heart is black with grief today. Hand on heart. Let the heavy waves flow through me.
When I stay stuck in my head, or try to avoid and numb my emotions, or pretend I am “fine”, my skin starts to itch and feel hot. A teeny tiny spot may even pop up. Talk about a motivating warning signal to stop, drop and feel!
Why a Strict Diet, Supplements and Herbs Didn't Improve My Skin
The austere diet and herbal and supplement regimen I was following didn't do much for me because I had already been eating clean and using medicinal herbs for 27 years. There wasn't much tweaking or healing left to do in my system.
My Emotional Body however, was injured and needed attention and care. I had a lot of catching up to do. For decades I used meditation and yoga as a "drug" to escape and ascend my emotions. I tried to skip feeling anger, fear and sadness and go straight to bliss. I thought being mindful meant being peaceful, so I tried to convince even myself that I was calm. I thought having so-called negative feelings meant I was doing something wrong, so I tried not to have them. I thought that I should only think happy thoughts so I could create a happy life.
What all this avoiding did do was create emotional inflammation, which causes physical inflammation.
Negative Emotions are Healing
Fear, anger and grief are normal, healthy emotions that we will all feel many times throughout our life, even daily. They are only negative when we suppress them, think about them instead of feeling them, or try to avoid and numb ourselves. Allowing them to move through our system with honor and respect is actually healing and a key to your power.
Why I am Grateful for Psoriasis
While psoriasis covered my legs, I kept thinking to myself, and sometimes saying out loud, "Someday you will be grateful for this horrible experience!"
I am grateful because psoriasis was the fire I needed to finally learn to love myself and release decades of stuffed emotions, pretending and people-pleasing.
I am grateful because psoriasis reminded me how essential it is for all of us to nurture our emotional body. I know that unprocessed emotions are one of the root causes of every health ailment.
I am grateful because psoriasis helped me reach a new level of empathy and compassion for loved ones and clients struggling with chronic conditions. I first became interested in natural health when I was 16 to help clear cystic acne. Since then I have been living an outrageously healthy lifestyle and have thus been the picture of health. For decades, even strangers often stop me to comment on how much I glow and want to know my health secrets. My only health issues over the last 27 years have been a little bloating, an occasional cold or flu, and a frozen shoulder (I'll tell that story another time).
Having psoriasis was humbling. Scary. Exhausting. Depressing. Now I have so much more tenderness for those of you who are struggling with long-term health challenges. I love you. May you be guided towards those experiences and guides that are the most nourishing and supportive for you. I would be honored to be one of your guides.
So What About You and Your Skin?
If you are reading this right now and have your own challenges with skin or another chronic conditions, please take in a nice deep breath and let go of a long melting exhale. You may be wondering how to clear your own skin and reduce emotional inflammation in your own body. If you would like more support, please consider working with me. I would love to be your guide and ally.
In the future, I will share more details about what did and didn’t help me, and how I use Ayurveda, Self-Kindness and Emotional Flow to help others gently address the root cause of psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions.
Disclaimer: This is my personal journey with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a complex imbalance that responds best to addressing multiple aspects of healing: digestion, detox pathways, nervous system, healing foods, stress-relief, and processing old emotions. If you decide to work with me, please know that your treatment plan may be different than what I describe worked for me, because I tailor it to your unique situation. Above all, remember that you are wonderful just as you are!