October 27, 2022 4 min read
Joleen Watson, Psoriasis Warrior, and moderator of the Facebook Support Group ‘Overcoming Psoriasis Australia’
This World Psoriasis Day, we interview Joleen Watson who has been managing the Facebook group ‘Overcoming Psoriasis Australia’ for four years. An offshoot of the original ‘Overcoming Psoriasis’ group founded by Todd Bello in the USA, the group currently has 2500 members, all people who have or know someone who has the chronic, inflammatory skin condition psoriasis.
Joleen, an ex-model and actress on the popular Australian television series ‘Home and Away’ shares her personal journey through overcoming the negativity, accepting her skin and finding fulfilment helping others with the same condition.
I first noticed it when I was 17. At the time, I started partying, drinking, smoking… stressing my body out. It was around the time I moved to Sydney and was starting my modelling career that it appeared on my elbows and knees. I would go to my modelling jobs and the make-up artists would just cover my elbows with foundation, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Not really. My Dad and his mother had it too, but they controlled it well enough that I didn’t investigate. I was young and busy at the pub, having a good time with my mates to really be aware of it. This was before Facebook and Instagram. Social media has been a really good way for me to navigate all this information about psoriasis and find a support network. Todd Bello has taught me more than any dermatologist has!
A few years. When I first got psoriasis, they put me on Daivobet ointment which I was on for over 20 years. 20 years I used steroids for! I guess it wasn’t understood back then, and mine wasn’t really addressed until it became severe. So, I was probably 32 or 33 when my real psoriasis journey started.
For me step therapy, jumping through the hoops to get the biologics from the government was hard. And the cycle of trying not to stress but stressing out because I had this disease that was there for everybody to see. I felt dry, exposed. It was hard to go out and at times the pain was unbearable.
Absolutely. We need to politicise psoriasis as a disease that is not contagious, just an overgrowth of skin cells. And to make it known that (as a person with psoriasis) we’re still beautiful, we are who we are! It’s important to spread information and for the government to hear us.
I will check-in and reach out to my support group on Facebook and take some time to be grateful and humble. Any day I can meditate, get out of myself is the ultimate goal for me.
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