What should I tell my friends and family?
Talking to friends and family about chronic illness can be challenging. It is important to understand how you’re feeling emotionally, and how much you’re willing to share; you may get opinions, judgements and advice, which may or may not be informed by actual understanding of your condition and could result in a difficult interaction.23 It is however important to discuss your condition with family and friends; it may help people understand why you’re unable to see them or attend social activities, and discussing your condition may also provide some stress relief.17
Educating yourself prior to discussing your condition should help you to convey information on psoriatic arthritis better and more accurately. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA)and Versus Arthritis websites have information you may find useful. Stating it isn’t contagious is a particularly common way to begin discussions to avoid fear arising from ignorance.24 Once people know you have psoriatic arthritis, letting them know what you are doing to prepare for activities such as taking medication may help their understanding. Suggesting alternatives to social activities you find difficult should help people to become more aware of what you find difficult, and that you would like to see them if you can work something out where your condition isn’t going to make it difficult or impossible.24
Informing family and friends of the kind of treatment you’re receiving, what the possible side effects are, and what you require in terms of medication storage in the fridge may also be helpful, so they understand if you experience side effects and what they should or should not do with your medication, such as they shouldn’t take it out of the fridge.