Melissa Bergstrom remembers being anxious since childhood.
Her anxiety manifested with physical symptoms such as stomach aches and feeling shaky and sick and it was rare for Melissa to have a full week of school. She had always had dry skin but over time, it began to turn into something much more and gradually worsened.
Her skin issue really started to feel like it was beyond her control starting in 2013 and looking back, Melissa can see now that it was the psoriasis flaring pretty intensely.
At the time, Melissa didn’t know what it was and felt fearful and frustrated by this thing that was going on with her skin.
Melissa was not formally diagnosed with psoriasis until 2014 and getting the diagnosis of an actual autoimmune disease that was for life, felt like a punch to the stomach for her. It created even more anxiety and a new search for solutions.
The psoriasis formed really thick silvery scales and plaques on her scalp that were itchy, painful and caused hair loss because it blocked the hair follicle from growing or when the plaque would fall off, it would take the hair along with it.
Melissa felt so self conscious that she didn’t want anyone to see or touch the psoriasis which created issues for her work as an actress. To deal with it, she had to manage her hair and wigs herself when in acting jobs which added even more stress and anxiety.
Anxiety in itself can become so limiting and stop you from doing so many things and combined with the psoriasis, Melissa was worried that it was going to stop her whole life. Melissa had to learn to ground herself and calm the anxiety in order to be able to keep living her life and continue to work.
So how do you live well with the double issue of anxiety and an autoimmune disease?
Melissa shares what she has learned about managing her anxiety, learning how to help herself and discover the strategies that worked for her.
Have a listen to Melissa’s story using the podcast player here or find and subscribe to the Emotional Autoimmunity podcast on iTunes, Spotify and most podcast platforms.
- The Perpetual Visitor Blog where I explore what it means to have a creative, healthy, sustainable lifestyle
- The Perpetual Visitor podcast on iTunes about sustainable, creative living
- The Perpetual Visitor: A Field Guide for Everyday Artists book by Melissa Bergstrom
- The Perpetual Visitor Theatre Company (documentary theatre)
- Instagram handle is @theperpetualvisitor
- Facebook page is @melissabergstromtheatreartist