“My psoriasis affects me more mentally than physically”: Jade’s experience with psoriatic arthritis

07 July 2023
Jade in hospital

32-year-old Jade was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis six years ago. Since then, she’s become a mum to her 14-month-old son Dexter and has learnt that self-care and exercise are a big help.   

Jade tells us about her experience with psoriatic arthritis and how she’s learnt to manage the physical and mental impacts of her condition.  

Jade’s arthritis diagnosis

“My symptoms came on overnight. It was a normal day: I went to work, had a date in the evening, came home. But when I got in the shower, I found I had a rash all over my body. My joints started swelling up and I couldn’t move. I went to A&E, and they said it was a food allergy. 

I went to the GP who said it was reactive arthritis as a result of an infection. But reactive arthritis eventually goes away and mine didn’t. My symptoms got progressively worse. I didn’t have any mobility and I couldn’t do anything for myself. 

I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis in February 2017. I didn’t experience severe psoriasis until I was pregnant, which is when my consultant officially changed my diagnosis to psoriatic arthritis.” 

Jade’s symptoms and medication

“I struggle with my knees, hands and lower back. The psoriasis flares up and I get swelling and stiffness in the joints.  

The fatigue goes hand in hand with the pain. It’s demobilising. Some days I’m not in so much physical pain, but it’s the fatigue of the condition that wears me down. 

I’ve tried DMARD’s in the past including methotrexate but sadly these didn’t work for me. I’m now on a biologic drug called Inflectra. I have this by IV infusion every eight weeks at the hospital. It’s bought my inflammation markers right down and provides a lot of relief.  

It’s quite nice having the infusions because I see my consultant and nursing team more regularly. I get to meet other patients in there as well and that helps me normalise things. It feels more real seeing other people with the condition. It’s helped me see that arthritis doesn’t discriminate. There are people of all ages, classes and races going in and having their infusions done.” 

The mental impact of arthritis

“My psoriasis affects me more mentally than physically. As a young woman it can be quite damaging to your self-esteem. I feel I can’t wear certain things and it takes a lot of trust for me to get changed in front of someone, particularly in a romantic setting.  

People don’t talk about the mental impact of chronic illnesses, but it goes hand in hand with the physical symptoms. I’ve found the online arthritis community to be a lifeline. February is hard for me because it’s when I got my diagnosis, so I’ll reach out to people around this time of year and get extra support. For me, that’s really important. 

When I learnt I had to live with [arthritis] for the rest of my life, I was completely shocked. You don’t wake up at 26 and expect to be riddled with arthritis. I thought I was too young.  

I spent a long period of time being angry, as well as lonely and confused. There were definitely dark moments when I was getting my head around the diagnosis.” 

The financial strain of arthritis

“I’ve had to adjust everything. About a year after I was diagnosed, I had to give up work for a while. The pain was just crippling.  

I tried to apply for PIP, but I didn’t qualify. What I had didn’t class as a disability. But I couldn’t walk, go to the toilet, feed myself, drive anywhere. What’s their definition of disability? I understand it’s difficult because I can do those things now, but I still do them with a great deal of pain and fatigue.  

I was able to go back to work full time before having my son, but now he’s the priority. Working part time gives me more energy and time to focus on him, but obviously it has a financial impact. It’s a balancing act.  

Certain things I need because of my condition are expensive, like having the heating on and eating well. It’s important to be able to look after yourself.” 

How Jade practices self-care 

“I practice a lot of self-care. I exercise six times a week, stretch every day and follow an anti-inflammatory diet.  

There are a lot of home remedies available and it’s a case of knowing what your triggers are. Cold weather impacts me massively. I set aside 15 minutes in the morning to do my stretches, take hot baths with Epsom salts and I wear compression gloves in the office.  

The longer you have the condition you get to know your body and you know if something’s wrong.” 

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