“Life will test you, just before it will bless you’ –;

a quote which has resonated with me through my journey with psoriasis; and one which has enabled me to find even a slither of motivation during the darkest times. Being a young woman during university with pressures of job hunting, studying, working, managing finances and personal problems, the onset of my psoriasis was one that took me by surprise.

This is how it all started

The flare-ups started on my face. This meant that I used to lock myself away from the world, and shied away from any social events. This took a toll on me mentally. So my solution was doused myself in topical steroids and quick-fix solutions, anything that would make the red, itchy scales disappear. This was the cycle I endured for the next 6 months – I would flare up, and then apply the sticky, steroid solutions which would keep it at bay until they reappeared again, usually within a few days and even worse.

By this time, I had started to get guttate type psoriasis over other areas of my body including my arms, legs, stomach, back, and scalp. Eventually, these spots would join and form bigger plaques. It came to a point around September 2019 where the topical steroids had stopped working for me. And I frowned upon the idea of using harsh steroids for a long period of time, due to the effects it has on thinning the skin.

Therefore, I decided to ditch the medication, and by this time in my journey, I started looking into alternative routes to treating psoriasis. However, before I knew my skin had definitely withdrawn from the topics, which led to my biggest flare-up to date. I was around 80% covered in plaques head to toe. 

This was the lowest point of my journey with psoriasis

I could not sit through a day’s work without bleeding through my clothes. Or taking a shower/bath which did not sting.

I was mentally exhausted and every day was a challenge. Getting up in the morning meant I had another day of dealing with my skin. I felt incredibly low about myself as my self-esteem plummeted; trailing back and forth to the dermatologist who had now put me on the waiting list for phototherapy treatment, and doctors who suggested I took anti-depressant tablets to settle my stress levels.

From this point, I knew enough was enough. As a young woman, I was determined not to be on medication for the rest of my life; but also was determined to not let my skin condition stop me from living it. I started to reach out on social media and was inspired by the likes of Henna Sillitoe and Medical Medium. They have both sworn by using healthy diets to heal autoimmune issues.

Then it came the slow change

By this time, I had already cut out dairy; I decided to go vegan and gluten-free. But also cut out any refined sugars, oils, fried food, and limit alcohol consumption. Also tried to avoid nightshades and promoted a plant-based lifestyle. My main focus are dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans/legumes, and an abundance of healing fruits.

I started to juice every morning, take dead sea salt baths, moisturize with coconut oil, and use only natural products. I started to listen to my body; took up exercise and started to workout 3-4 times a week. I started to practice yoga and meditation to help my stress levels and take care of my mental health.

The point in which I started to accept I had psoriasis rather than fight it, was when I started feeling better and confident within myself.

I felt as though the new diet and lifestyle filled me with more energy, motivation, and clarity. Other symptoms such as tinnitus, vertigo, and anxiety started to subside and in turn, my skin improved. 

Where I am now

Today I am around 10% covered with a few stubborn patches on my lower legs. But despite this, a vast improvement in not only the appearance of my skin but also mentally. That’s why in May 2020, I decided to create an Instagram platform (@ani_psofit). I want to document the healing foods I eat, my lifestyle, and to help bring awareness and motivate those struggling with skin conditions.

I also use the platform to project confidence and self-love; Now I am not afraid to wear a skirt which shows my psoriasis. I’m not selfconscious about what people may think anymore. I believe as long as you have love, respect, and confidence within yourself, everything else will fall into place around you. I hope now I can continue to document my journey and see improvements within my skin which in turn reaches out and inspire those who are also struggling with skin conditions.

Anika Najran

Anika, also known as Annie, is a 21-year-old student who has been living with psoriasis for the past year and a half. During this time she has had severe flare-ups which have led her to drastically change her lifestyle and habits in order to naturally heal. Today she has healed around 70% of the psoriasis on her body and has started an Instagram page @ani_psofit to document her journey and support those who are suffering from skin conditions too.

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