Joel - Psoriatic arthritis

Joel first developed psoriatic arthritis in his twenties and now blogs in order to record his personal experiences.

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My name is Joel, and I have lived with arthritis most of my life, starting with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis shortly before my 11th birthday. In my 20s, this developed into Psoriatic Arthritis.

In 2019 I became a parent and wanted to be a better role model for my son, so I created my blog, to open up and record my personal experience of life as a parent with arthritis. Today, I write freelance for many leading charities and organisations thanks to the strength the arthritis community gave me to find my voice.

If today’s pain doesn’t bring you to your knees, tomorrow’s rashes will cripple you with self-awareness. Psoriatic arthritis is the rock and the hard place, and at times, it feels like I am struggling underneath the weight of both.

When I was a child with arthritis, it was the standard trio of pain, stiffness and swelling – and for a lot of years, I learned to cope with that, to a certain extent. However, in my early twenties, when the rashes started to appear, I struggled, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

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I used to sit in Rheumatology waiting rooms as a 12-year-old and be afraid of the patients, often decades older than me, with psoriasis or the typical knobbly fingers of those with PsA. I remember asking my parents if I’d ever look like that, seeking reassurance. It sounds terrible now but back then it was completely understandable. As ‘the kid in the wheelchair’, I was already bullied at school and hugely self-conscious. The last thing I wanted was anything more visible. To make matters worse, these hours in waiting rooms felt like a window into my future.

Today, almost 25 years on from that kid in the waiting room, I can’t sit here and say I’m not self-conscious because I am. My battle with depression aligns directly with my physical mobility and appearance. Sometimes because of reliance on mobility aids, others, the condition of my skin. But there’s a big difference between being aware of your image and being ashamed.

Today, when I talk openly about my life with psoriatic arthritis, I am talking to those with no awareness of the disease; to educate, to change attitudes. Yet, I’d be lying if I said, in part, I wasn’t also talking to future 12-year-old me’s – to reassure them that stigma is somebody else’s problem that needn’t be your own.

Read more real-life stories from people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.