For anyone who is diagnosed with a chronic condition, the decision to slow down is one that can be emotional. It is a gradual process, but you eventually find your comfort zone and make the best of it.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis has forced me to make changes in both my personal and professional life. I was the type of person who was running 100 miles per hour in multiple directions. Between my family, my job, my education, and even volunteering, I had my hands full. Then, RA sent me to a screeching halt. I had to learn the hard way what it meant to be burnt out. I had to learn what it meant to break commitments due to my health. I had to learn that not everyone in my life would understand. I had to learn how to ask for help. I had to learn to accept what I could not control.
I wasn’t supermom nor was I perfect mom, even though I tried to be all those things until it wore me down. If anything, I did not have time for RA in my already hectic life nor did I have time to ignore it. I have had to make changes to my lifestyle, which involved staying active, stressing less, eating healthy, taking my meds, etc., all in an effort to relieve my symptoms and keep them from getting worse. I learned that a healthy lifestyle was the only recourse I had against fighting RA and diseases that are a result of having RA.
I discovered that having RA meant slowing down. I had to stop stressing myself about being the best at everything. I often joke how I am my biggest critic. I used to think that being my biggest critic was a good thing because it forced me to push myself to be better. Because of RA, I learned, one day at a time, I didn’t always have to be constantly trying to be successful in my career, at motherhood, preparing my children for the future, having a clean house, helping out anyone and everyone who asked for help, and anything else that I though I needed to be the best at. It took RA to make me realize I didn’t have to be the best at everything.
I look at having RA and FMS as just another part of my life, a part that I have to be successful in. I am not saying that I don’t have my moments (I have pity parties more often than I would like to), but RA has definitely forced me to slow down. RA forced me to stop and smell the roses and if anything, it has been a reality check. I try not to stress so much about things I have no control over, I rest when I am tired, and I take care of myself by protecting my joints, exercising on my good days and stretching on my bad ones, and eating healthy.
The people who read my blog have noticed the stance I have taken against RA, and I am glad that it has been a positive one. I often joke that my life’s experiences prepared me for RA. Needless to say, it is a journey of self-discovery and one I never expected would change me so much. I am in the process of making some other lifestyle changes on a professional level and for the first time in my life, I am content with the person I am and that I have become, and if it wasn’t for RA, I don’t think I would have found that person.