Posted in rheumatoid arthritis

Coping means acceptance, strength, control, and personal growth


One of things I have learned about having RA is that my life’s struggles led me to be a fighter. How I learned to deal with crises in the past prepared me for Rheumatoid Arthritis. My struggles have forced me to gain strength and RA is not any different. I have found strengths in me that I never thought I had in me. While RA has closed some doors for me, it has opened others, and most importantly, it has opened my understanding of who I am, who I should be, and what I fight for everyday.

RA has taught me acceptance which was not complex, but finding that I was not always in control was quite difficult to say the least. In the beginning, I thought and believed that I would get better, and but it seemed RA presented one obstacle after another for me. Further, even though I accepted RA in my life, and there has not been a day that my emotions got the better of me. I grieve and sometimes, I feel sorry for myself. I know that my feelings are justified, but it angers me that RA has robbed me of my future. However, I have learned to make use of my good days and to do the best that I can on those days.

I have learned that RA controls my life more often than I do. I have learned to that I have to find better ways to control my life and my feelings. I control my RA and life with knowledge. I understand what tests my doctors take and why and what my medications are supposed to do, because I take the time to ask questions. I focus on eating healthy, taking my medications and vitamins as required, and getting enough rest. I leave the rest in God’s hands and I pray for guidance and strength. Again, in terms of control, I try to plan and I anticipate that my condition may affect my plans. I always fight and I try not to give up. I know my attitude plays a role in how I feel every day. I find better ways to do things and I do not overexert myself if I don’t have to.

I look for support and I ask for help when I need it. I work with my doctors and I trust that they have my best health interests in mind. I have focused on strengthening my relationships as much as I can, and I spend time with my children every opportunity I get. I have joined support groups and focused on meeting with others struggling and dealing with the issues I deal with.

I have learned to accept the physical aspects of RA, but I refuse to be weak because of it. I know my limitations and maybe, when I look in the mirror, I don’t always see the strong resilient woman I used to be, but I understand I have changed, and I know that I am still me.

Sometimes, my emotions are all over the place – I feel angry at RA, my body, myself, my doctors, my family and my friends. I know that is part of living with a chronic illness. Sometimes, it is hard to express what you are feeling on any given day without hurting those that you love. I have pity parties, and I cry, but I also have days where I am really tough. I know that it takes a lot to find humor, hope and faith with you struggle every day with a chronic condition and I pray that my loved ones understand. My faith gives me strength and I know that with God, everything is possible. We all have the power to heal and we have the ability to be courageous.

I look for distraction as method of forgetting about my pain, weakness and fatigue. I still try to focus on my career, my family, and faith, and my life is still meaningful despite RA. Personal growth is what I have gained, and as difficult has it has been, it has also been a rewarding journey. I have learned to be strong no matter how tough life gets. I have learned to be positive and to see the beauty in the simplest of things. I appreciate that I am alive and I do my best on a daily basis to treat others with kindness. When it rains, I look for rainbows. I have changed, and if anything positive came out my diagnosis, it was my personal growth.

Any person who lives with a chronic illness struggles, but we learn to cope.  While we are coping, we learn acceptance, strength and control.  Through all those lessons, we achieve personal growth.  I am not alone in my journey, and I remind myself that not everything is  about “me,” but I do have pity parties often.  I once read that the late Christopher Reeve had his own pity parties every morning for ten minutes, and then he would move on with his day.  We all need pity parties.

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7 thoughts on “Coping means acceptance, strength, control, and personal growth

  1. Amen, girl. And yes, we all need pity parties. Sometimes the RA is like a big elephant in the room. You simply can not focus on anything else. That's when it's most frustrating to me.Like you, I hate the things it prevents or limits me from doing. But we have to work around it as best we can.It's so hard to explain to someone who doesn't wake up hurting every morning. When you mop the floor and have to lie on your back a good 1/2 hour to recoop. Damn frustrating it is.But I believe God doesn't give us more than we can handle. We learn lessons from our trials, and sometimes those are just priceless.

  2. Lana,What a gorgeous picture!I agree with you that chronic illnesses do strengthen us, instill in us the will to fight to manage our symptoms so they don't manage us. I also agree that chronic illness is a teacher… it helps us understand ourselves better.Learning to accept the loss of control that is part of chronic illness is very hard to come to terms with. Grieving lost abilities/life experiences is very normal for anyone managing chronic illness. Making the best of the "good days" helps me a great deal.Knowledge is power. Advocating for ourselves is crucial. So is self-care. It sounds like you have worked hard to manage your symptoms and employ coping skills to deal with your condition. You should be proud of yourself for that.The relationship-strengthening, the family time, the support groups, and the networking with fellow chronic illness patients are all huge.You may not feel resilient but it sounds to me like you exemplify it.The emotional impact of chronic illness can't be underestimated. It can be tricky to draw the line between healthy "venting" about illness and hurting loved ones by saturating them with too much "illness talk".We all have pity parties. It sounds like you have strong support and coping mechanisms and that the pity parties not happening all day, every day. The way that Christopher Reeve handled it sounds like a wise idea to me. Distraction can be an amazing tool. Yes, personal growth is a benefit of chronic illness. You can't beat a great rainbow picture. :)Yes, we learn to cope… and the other traits you mentioned. Finally, thank you for posting Alicia's adoption site badge. I just posted links to your blog on Facebook regarding the fact that you did so. (I have been posting all that I become aware of on Facebook. This seems to be encouraging more and more people to do so).Thank you for a great post!JeanneP.S. Here is a quote Alicia gave me. It happens to be a Christopher Reeve quote. "Once you choose hope, anything is possible". ~~ Christopher Reeve

  3. Thanks for speaking exactly what I've been feeling lately. One of the most frustrating aspects of RA is knowing the impact it has on those you love.

  4. Lana, you're a daily inspiration. Please know that when you're feeling bad and you say so, we all do understand where you're coming from, and we all wish you the courage and strength to move on. Sometimes just a decent night's sleep is enough for me. What you've written today put a smile on my face as I nodded to your words, recognizing so many of the emotions in myself. Thank you for that.And Jeanne — thank you for the Chris Reeve quote. It brought tears to my eyes and made me smile even more.-Wren

  5. Yay Lana – I am still finding my way through my new reality, but getting stronger again each day.Before RA, I NEVER would have believed I could experience such a roller coaster of emotions so many times in a day. Its neverending, is it?-RA SB

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