Family and Home
Family and home
When you’re living with a chronic condition, or living with someone who does, its impact can be felt across all family members, not just by the person with the condition. With an unpredictable condition like psoriasis, it is sometimes difficult to make plans, and life can be turned upside down without warning. Its unpredictable nature may invoke disappointment, angry words and misunderstandings, and put a strain on family life. Keeping a positive attitude and communicating openly can help you and your family cope with the ups and downs of your condition. Your healthcare professional will be able to provide more information, advice and support on how to best approach day to day living and ensure an open dialogue with your family.
Hear how "David", 62, talks about the impact psoriasis can have across a family – and not just upon the person with the condition, whilst illustrating the importance of keeping a positive attitude and communicating openly to help the family cope with the ups and downs of psoriasis.
- Don’t see yourself as the ‘sickly one’ - If you fall into this trap you’ll forever be making excuses to yourself about why you can’t participate in family life as fully as other family members. If you choose to position yourself outside the family fold, you could end up feeling isolated and resentful when relatives start assuming you don’t want to be included in their plans and activities. Psoriasis is a tough condition to live with, and can be very public, but try to base your sense of identity on the times when your psoriasis is reduced, rather than when you have flare ups. Remember, just as you need support with psoriasis, other family members can also fall ill and appreciate being looked after by you.
- Try not to break a commitment - Psoriasis can be infuriatingly unpredictable and, since it can be triggered by stress, has a habit of flaring up when you least want it to. You may feel unwell or withdrawn, not wanting to face the outside world. Yet life must go on and sometimes letting people down can actually make you feel worse about the situation. Honouring commitments is one of the cornerstones of family life; it’s one of the important ways we build trust and show relatives we care about them. There will be times when cancelling simply can’t be avoided but try to be consistent and only do this when you feel at your worst. Your family will then understand that you’re an effective judge of your condition and will know to support you when you need it most.
- Ask for support - You may feel that your condition places enough of a burden on the family as it is and that you don’t want to ask any more of them. But don't make assumptions about what sort of help your family would be prepared to offer you. Ask for help if you need it. Do you need someone to come along to your doctor appointment or help evaluate treatment options? Do you want someone who will listen when you feel low? Or someone who will make you laugh and not mention the word "psoriasis"? Those around you will not necessarily know what support you need to deal with the emotional and physical aspects of your condition unless you tell them.
- Minimise stress at home - Stress is a well-known trigger for psoriasis so making home-life as calm and peaceful as possible will help to keep your psoriasis in check. Obviously, no one's home can ever be stress-free, but talk to your family about how to share the responsibilities of home life, and reinforce how this will help to keep you well and allow you to continue taking part in all aspects of family life. Perhaps you could sit down and plan a rota where all family members agree to share the household chores whilst also being respectful of time set aside to let you get some rest.
- Manage your moods - Living with psoriasis can make you feel low and it might sometimes be difficult for your family to understand what you are going through. It is easy to lash out and blame someone else but inevitably this will only lead to conflict within the family. Try to learn the art of constructive communication to prevent family members from shutting down when you're talking to them. Statements which explain how you feel will help them understand you much better. "I'm feeling this...”, “I get anxious when…”, “I'm angry about..." are all ways of expressing yourself so that your voice is heard. Finally, staying physically and mentally healthy through regular exercise and an active social life will also help you to put your family’s feelings in perspective with your own.
- Give them space - Ultimately you are in control of taking care of yourself, with the help and support of your loved ones. So don’t lose sight of the fact that they also need to maintain their own life too. If they take charge of every aspect of caring for you and your treatment, they may end up worn out and resentful. Running themselves into the ground won’t be good for either of you in the long-term, so give them space and some time-out to keep life in balance.
Family and friends will often show they care by reading up on the disease and finding out how it may affect you and what they can do to try to offer you support. Yet when you feel at your lowest, it seems hard to believe that other people accept you and your condition and love you in spite of it. You may feel disconnected and unable or disinclined to reach out and ask for or accept their help. When it becomes hard to accept their support, try to imagine your own compassion if someone close to you appeared to need your help. Imagine your own belief that, with your support, you could help to improve their situation.