Click here for COVID-19 (coronavirus) advice for people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Jonny has overcome many challenges since he was diagnosed with psoriasis in the late 90s including being barred from the army due to his skin, and developing psoriatic arthritis.
I'm getting ready for a night out at Uni and notice an enlarged patch of red on my scalp. Enough is enough, I’ve got to see a doctor. It’s 1999, and although Prince is partyin’ like it is that year, I’m not really feeling it. What I am soon to discover is that psoriasis will impact my day to day life and my confidence. Looking back now, it was a physical manifestation of the pain, stress and my own inability to talk through my problems that I was experiencing back then… but now they cannot be ignored.
What had led to this (I ask myself while scratching my head)? I had just returned from an operational tour of Northern Ireland with the Army, was now at University 100s of miles away from home and dealing with the recent separation of my parents. Other than that, I was ok! But seriously, finding my feet as a man in the 90s, we simply didn’t talk away our problems like we do now (I’d never had written this back then!). At Uni, it was easy to drink problems away, or simply immerse ourselves in distractions, not always study.
Psoriasis can’t be ignored, so in 1999 I popped along to my GP and was diagnosed. And for 20 years, there has always been a patch of it somewhere, and I haven’t been able to brave the hairdressers since (I’ve figured out how to cut my own hair!). But things were about to get worse, with graduation fast approaching, my attempts to get back into the Army were thwarted by a medical board, where I was ‘barred’ from service thanks to my scaly, itchy, red friend. I was heartbroken, my dreams had been shattered, and I simply didn’t know what to do with my life.
So, I cracked on with living life, travelling the world, expanding my horizons and eventually finding a meaningful career in the totally stress-free environment of politics! I even re-enlisted into the Army Reserves (rules on psoriasis had been relaxed) and eventually found myself back on operational duty, at the age of 32, in Afghanistan. All ok, until I returned home, and I found a new challenge: psoriatic arthritis.
Again, my inability to deal with stress had forced the body to react. I went from being the fittest I’d ever been to a crumbling wreck, unable to dress myself, limping often, putting on weight, unable to play rugby, fatigued, forever explaining to people my state. But I wasn’t about to sit down and take it, the example of wounded brothers & sisters overcoming their injuries taught me I could do better. So, I got in the swimming pool, then the gym, cycling, running, then the rugby pitch… I cried with joy that day I put my boots back on.
How am I coping? I have my ups and downs. Talking my stress away, dealing with things head on, all help. But the pain in my feet doesn’t go away, so I’m now on my 3rd medical treatment. I’ve even had a period of 3 months without any meds! Being active and talking, they will always be my best meds. And as for that patch on my scalp, it’s still there.