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031: How To Thrive Emotionally Living With Chronic Skin Rashes (Like Psoriasis) w/ Nitika Chopra

When you have a chronic skin condition, staying positive and practicing self-love can sometimes seem impossible. If you're in need of inspiration and encouragement, you're going to love today's show.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

Today's guest, Nitika Chopra, has been a leader in the wellness industry since she founded her blog in 2010.

As the host of the talk show Naturally Beautiful on Z-Living and as the on-air expert for Fresh on QVC, Nitika has always empowered women to use beauty as a tangible access point to self-love.

Known for her straightforward tone and intense vulnerability, Nitika recently took everything she had learned from suffering from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for the past 27 years and created a conversation about self-love in the chronic illness community.

With her experience in public speaking, her highly engaged social media following, and her raw and honest writing that she shares weekly on her blog, Nitika is determined to get honest with her audience so that they can get honest with themselves in a way that truly transforms lives. You can also find her doing hosting her weekly podcast, The Point of Pain.

In this episode, we talk about loving yourself, accepting rage, and thriving with a chronic skin condition. 

Did Nitika's story resonate with you? Tell us in the comments!

In this episode

  • Nitika's personal story living and thriving with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
  • How to deal with shame about your skin rashes
  • Why it's okay to be angry
  • Baby steps to finding joy (even if you still have rashes)

 

Quotes

“You're allowed to be angry…We're constantly trying to build positivity on top of rage, and that juxtaposition creates so much shame.” [10:38]

“You are diagnosed with something…You're furious about it because it's devastating and it feels like a betrayal. And everyone in this ‘wellness industry' is telling you just to be positive. And that just makes me more angry.” [11:16]

“I don't even like the word ‘heal', because I think it makes it about the destination and not about the journey.” [15:48]

 

Links

Find Nitika online here

Follow Nitika on Instagram

Nitika's podcast –>  The Point of Pain

 

“You're allowed to be angry...We're constantly trying to build positivity on top of rage, and that juxtaposition creates so much shame.”

031: How To Thrive Emotionally Living With Chronic Skin Rashes (Like Psoriasis) w/ Nitika Chopra FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer:              Hi everyone. Welcome back to The Healthy Skin Show today. I've got a very special guest with you. For those of you who tuned into the eczema and psoriasis awareness week, you will remember this guest. She talked a lot about her personal experience and I think that that's very helpful when you're in the middle of things and life just really feels pretty crappy, so to speak. You don't feel very positive and one of the reasons that I wanted to bring her on the show is because she's actually one of the most positive people I know and I love watching her on Instagram and paying attention to the things that she does and I thought, why not connect you with her? Especially if you're in need of inspiration and some upliftment and just whatever it is that you need to kind of turn the day around. I think she is an excellent resource for you now known for her straight forward tone and intense vulnerability.

Jennifer:              Nitika Chopra has been a leader in the wellness industry since she founded her blog in 2010 as the host of the talk show Naturally Beautiful on Zee living and as the on air expert for fresh on QVC. Nitika has always empowered women to use beauty as a tangible access point to self love. Known for her straight forward tone and intense vulnerability. Nitika recently took everything she learned from suffering with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for the past 27 years and created a conversation about self love in the chronic illness community. Nitika shares honest experiences every week on her blog so that she can spark transformative reflection and truth in her readers. And you can also find her discussing these topics on our weekly podcast called The Point Of Pain, which is really great by the way, as well as her daily inspiration over on Instagram.

Jennifer:              You can check her out at @NitikaChopra, you so Nitika. I just a want to welcome you so much to the podcast. This is such an honor to have you here.

Nitika:                   Thank you for having me. I'm so pumped.

Jennifer:              Well now, you know, the reason that I was inspired to reach out to you was because as I'm watching you every day there was, it was pretty recently. You shared these really deeply personal photos of yourself that I, I'll be honest, when I had eczema all over my hands, I didn't want to show anybody my eczema. And I'm not saying it was easy. I would imagine it was pretty hard.

Nitika:                   Yeah.

Jennifer:              Um how did it feel to like put this very personal journey that a lot of times, I mean, I know I felt a lot shame when I was going through it and I'm sure you can speak to that. How did it feel just being like, here you go, world.

Nitika:                   Yeah. yeah, I resonate with everything that you're saying. I definitely have felt shame and felt like I never wanted anyone to see those things. There's like so many barriers to, you know, emotional, even intimacy with, you know, having that kind of a conditional over your body. But for me it always was really just I dunno when I was really young, I when I got diagnosed, I was 10 years old and a few years into that diagnosis they need maybe four or five years, I hit one of my many rock bottoms throughout the journey. And just to be very candid, it was a moment where I was really, you know, it was like 15 years old and I was at my wit's end and I felt like I didn't want to be there anymore.

Nitika:                   I didn't want to be alive anymore. And I never was the person who would actually do anything about that. But I was really close to God and I really believed in God. So I was praying for God to take me away because my skin and everything that compounded with my health is just so intense. I didn't know how to handle it. And the message that I heard, cause I've always been so connected to God, I just heard this message that wasn't for me, that was like from somewhere way deep into like the ethers. I felt like it said, this isn't about you. And I was like, I'm sorry, I'm the one who is going through all of this craziness and I'm the one who's like in so much pain, what are you talking about? It's not about me. And it honestly took me a long time to like sit with that message and have it evolve over time.

Nitika:                   It showed up in different ways throughout my life. And I didn't totally understand it when I heard it, but I knew it was the truth. That was the only thing I knew. Right. So when I had like my darkest, darkest, darkest moments, I felt like that was the one thing that I knew for sure. So, okay. If that's supposedly true and like literally I would be in pain and be like, okay, if this was like not about me, but I'm like, what does this mean? Or, you know, try to support myself in that way. So getting back to the pictures, it's like specifically I've been locking those pictures up in the closet for like 17 years. You know, I took those pictures when I was 20. I never wanted to show those pictures. And at the same time there was a part of me that knew someone was going to need to see them at some point that someone was going to need to see that.

Nitika:                   Like, this is the amount of pain that I was in for like, you know, two decades of my life and I'm okay and you'll be okay too. Not, I'm healed. Not everything's perfect. Not something happened overnight, but like I'm okay and I'm actually thriving. And you can have that too. Maybe it'll take you twice as long. Maybe it'll take you half as long. Maybe it'll take you 10 different steps or all the same steps. I don't know. I'm not, I'm a patient. I'm not a guru of any kind. And I always try to say that, but I just, something in me knew that someone was going to need to see them. So when I shared those images, I just felt like it's not about you. It was hard. I was sad. I was uncomfortable. It was, there was a lot of grief that came up and sharing them. I felt for that girl in those pictures who was in so much pain and trying to be happy at the same time and like fighting for her happiness. And yeah, and I knew it wasn't about me.

Jennifer:              And can we talk a little bit about the, just the shame piece. Like if you go back to that girl, you know, in that moment where you're really suffering, you know, and this is pretty intense and I appreciate you for being so vulnerable and sharing that these thoughts have passed through you, through your experience. And that's not something people oftentimes want to acknowledge. And it's also somewhat liberating to hear somebody say, you know, I admit it. This is what my truth is and can really allow somebody else to be honest with themselves. Which I guess is the whole point of your podcast and your website, but how did it feel when you were at your worst and you're walking through life and you just want, I don't know, I just wanted to hide. Did you feel that way?

Nitika:                   Oh yeah. I mean, it's interesting because I, I was always battling it in some ways, right? Like one part of me, I came out of my mother's body just being like the total opposite of what every Indian girl is supposed to be like. But there's this word in Hindi, which I now say to all of my closest friends, cause they're all this [inaudible], which is pataakhe. It's just like firecracker. And my mom has been calling me a firecracker since I was born basically. You know, so like in the Indian culture, just from the super stereotypical, you know, idea that you could have of it. It's like you're supposed to be demure and you're supposed to be, I mean, even my hair is too wild for like what the Indian culture is supposed to be, right? So I've just always been that way and always felt like this deep desire to fully self express and be self-expressed.

Nitika:                   And then there's this other part of me that was like, I'll also felt a lot of hurt and rejection, whether it was from my body or just from being so different. So it was like constantly this shame of like, wait, but I want to go like this. But like every time I do, I get hurt. So I need to go like, you know, like, and I think that is the expanding in the contracting that a lot of us experience, whether it's through psoriasis and eczema or it's through relationships or it's through not knowing, you know, how to read as well as other kids in class, but you want to learn. I mean, it can be in the slightest ways. But yeah, I felt a lot of shame. I felt you know, yeah, I felt a lot of shame and I felt that battle a lot.

Jennifer:              And so from that point to where you are today, where like you're just like, it's not like you're letting it all hang out. I don't think that's the right way to phrase it. But you, you share your life, you share this sense of joy that permeates it. And yeah, there are moments where you know, you're like, I'm really tired. I'm not feeling great today. No day is a hundred percent sunshine and rainbows and that, how do you, for somebody who's listening to this and they're really still in the thick of it, they're that girl, you know, 15, 20 years ago, how do you make that shift or what little baby steps did you make or that you encourage your tribe to take in order to find joy and flip that? It's almost like kind of flipping a mindset switch of how you look at things.

Nitika:                   Yeah, I mean, I actually, I had this question similarly asked to me by a woman in an audience of a event that I was speaking at recently and she was like, you know, I'm trying all the things and I'm doing all the things that the wellness industry tells me that I need to do. And I'm like applying all the things and I'm taking all the things and I'm saying all the things just like I'm doing everything. But the reality is that she was just diagnosed with chronic Lyme and she's like, the reality is that there are some days like, I can't move and I can't get out of bed. And I'm like trying to say an affirmation, but like I, it's not working. And so she asked me like, what do you do when you're really in that devastating place? And I just looked at her and I was like, you're allowed to be angry.

Nitika:                   You know? And I feel like if someone had just told me that like 25 years ago or 30 years ago, like my whole life would have been different because we're constantly trying to build positivity on top of rage. And that juxtaposition creates so much shame, right? It's like that to me. And there's so many ways that shame is created and developed. But to me, like in the chronic illness conversation, that is one of the greatest seeds of shame. You know, like you are diagnosed with something, you're furious because your body is not acting at all the way that, whether it's like your sister or your best friend or your mom, like all their bodies seem to be, or how your body's always been. And you're furious about it because it's devastating and it feels like a betrayal. And everyone in this wellness industry, which I say in quotes, cause I have so many feelings about it is telling you just to be positive.

Nitika:                   And to me that just makes me more angry. But what it did when I didn't know like more about these different layers, it me be so toxic with myself in trying to force an outcome of positivity on top of rage and heartbreak. You know? So like if someone had just said to me, girl, you just go be pissed for like two years or you know, go be angry for like whatever you got to do, just get it out of your system. I would have, I think, found my way to peace and you know, just calm and connection and a little bit more clarity, probably much, much sooner. But we're constantly fighting that. So I would say the first thing would be it starts with rage. Like it just starts with rage. Like don't be afraid of your rage. Don't be afraid of the fact that you're devastated underneath what has just occurred to your body.

Nitika:                   And that doesn't mean that you're negative. That doesn't mean you're going to stay there. That doesn't mean that you've failed. It's just being honest. Right. And then from there, I mean there's all kinds of tips. I mean you can follow me on social media or you can follow you on social media, you can do it. You know there's like so many tips that depends on what resonates with you. But I know for me, because my condition was so skin related it would things psoriasis like skincare and beauty really was like a really interesting access point to me because I felt like I never looked at skincare as anything but like a means to an end. Like I just need the tub of Shea butter or like the vitamin D oil or like whatever it is just to like pull it all over my skin and like wrap myself up in sweat pants or do whatever I have to do just to get to like not being in pain.

Nitika:                   I never thought about actually luxuriating and like a really nice body oil or taking a nice bath or you know, because it was just like trauma upon trauma with my skin. But there are little moments in that. When I started to look at skincare, like my face wasn't, there were years where it was affected, but there were also a lot of years where it was okay, it was better. And so I could like try out new face masks or I could try, you know, just to connect to my actual skin in a way. It's like not even about what it looks like or anything. And so that's kind of the first like baby step that I always think, you know, like after you, the big step is like dealing with your rage and your anger and heartbreak and then you can start layering in like a green juice and you know what affirmation and a face mask and everything. But it's not really about that stuff. It's really about getting to the truth.

Jennifer:              Yeah. And actually I just want to thank you very much for bringing that to the table because I didn't even think about that. And it's true, like when I was there, it was so angry, but then trying to show up and be positive and put on a happy face and you go home and you're a super depleted, really exhausted and then you, I probably wasn't very pleasant to be around and I was also angry and I felt like my life was being stolen away from me by this condition that I couldn't control. And I think the brilliance in what you're sharing is that you're offering people an opportunity to meet themselves where they are and that it's okay to do that and be that. And that's a really, that's a really beautiful lesson that I think everyone listening can take from that. And just so everyone knows, I mean you still struggle today with your conditions, correct?

Nitika:                   Yeah. I mean it doesn't feel like a struggle as much as it used to, but it's definitely a journey. Like I get so many messages on Instagram saying like, how did you heal? And I sometimes take weeks to respond because I'm just like, I didn't heal. Like, I don't know why, just because like I don't look the way I did in those pictures 17 years ago doesn't mean that I'm like healed. And to be honest with you, I don't even like the word heal. I really don't because I think it's a, it makes it about the destination and not about the journey. And like, I think we've learned enough to know that it's like really not about the destination. And I just feel like I'm always healing. I'm always like, to me healing is just about alignment. Like whether it's my mind, my body, or my soul, it's just about that alignment.

Nitika:                   So I'm constantly realigning myself throughout every moment of the day, you know? And sometimes I'll go weeks without being, well, not weeks so much anymore, but I used to go weeks or months even without being aligned and now without being, you know, in line with my truth and then I'll realize it and I'll work my way back. And that to me is what healing really is. So I, yeah, I still have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It doesn't, it doesn't run my life the way that it used to at all. But it's still there. I still see the doctors and take the medications when I need to and you know, eat certain foods because I want to for my health and try to drink lots of water and get lots of sleep and, you know, live a pretty conscious auto-immune lifestyle.

Jennifer:              But it doesn't necessarily have to. I think when we get stuck is like, or like this is what my life's going to be like. Like this is what my life is like. I get to do these things, I get to have these amazing experiences. And I just, I just wanna thank you. You have really shifted the conversation I think in the, in a direction that this podcast hasn't had a chance to go. And I think for those of you who this conversation is really resonating with I would love to encourage you to go listen to Nitika's podcast because I think this is where you're unpacking it even further.

Nitika:                   Yeah. We get like really intensely deep and like every episode my editors always like, do you realize you go over at the time that you're supposed to do this? Half the time. Sorry. Yeah, they're like long episodes. But yeah.

Jennifer:              They're really deep. They're full of information.

Jennifer:              They're also thought provoking in some respects. They're very heart provoking. It gets you in that element of like, wow, there's, there's shifts possible. There's mindset shifts that I could change. Maybe I could look at something from a different perspective and angle and see the positivity there or the benefit that I could begin to bring into my own life. And so I think that'd be a great opportunity for all of you to check out her podcast. And then you can also visit Nitika over @nitikachopra.com I'm going to put all of the links in the show notes. So if you're listening in the car or whatever, you can easily find everything here as well as her Instagram handle. And if you go over to her website, she's got a really great you know, she's got a great newsletter, number one, but she's got a video webinar and she's going to share with you some of her top three ways to thrive when you have a chronic illness, which I think is really important to think about thriving. I like that idea of like thrive rather than focus so heavily on healing that because we only have the, now we don't really know what we're going to have a month or two months or a year from now. And the now is all we really have. So Nitika thank you so much for joining us in this conversation. I deeply appreciate it.

Nitika:                   Thank you for having me. It was such a pleasure.


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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