Love the skin you’re in: Psoriasis awareness month – Reena

Our final contribution for Psoriasis Awareness Month is Reena. We loved hearing her story and reflection on her 25 year-long journey with psoriasis.

Reena Ruparelia, 39 

Growing up in Toronto, Canada, at age 14 Reena was living a normal teenage life when she was diagnosed with psoriasis. A number of red itchy dots on her stomach had previously been dismissed as chickenpox, until the dots started to spread.

Psoriasis had robbed her of her self-esteem as a teenager and was a really difficult time for her. The condition not only affected all of the activities that she previously loved to do but also the relationships in her life. “As I’ve moved through the journey now, 25 years later, I’m realising how much of a psychological impact that it had on me”. For 20 of the 25 years, if not more, was spent managing the expectations outside and my image and how I acted, so I’d over animate, dress in a certain way and not participate to protect myself from being rejected.”

It is through her experience with psoriasis that Ruparelia has become resilient and has focused on her health and well-being as a priority. It was through meditation and mindfulness that she started to realize how her condition was affecting her psychological state. “I realized that everything I was doing was because of my skin”. She speaks of how mindfulness enabled her to look at herself with non-judgement, kindness and love.

Reena is an active member of the psoriasis community on Instagram, which she says has been wildly beneficial in not just telling her story but in helping others too. “The time of diagnosis was really traumatizing. So, the more that I’ve been telling my story, the more helpful it has been in connecting deeper into it. So, I really appreciate the opportunity to tell my story.” Her main advice would be to seek support, and not to be ashamed about the condition.

The way she lives is of huge importance, and her skin is now her number one priority. The way she starts and ends her day is instrumental in managing the condition. These parts of the day are pivotal and follow a mindful and meditative process. “Dimming the lights an hour before bed is an important one, having a slow, warm shower, patting dry versus rubbing. I then put lotion on, paying more attention to the parts of my skin where I have plaque psoriasis whilst citing positive affirmations. I then wind myself down with either deep breathing, slow stretch practice or meditation. That end of day routine really helps me, getting myself in the right place to get a good night’s sleep.”

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