Accepting My New Normal: A Few Tips From Someone Still Struggling
Normal. What does it even mean? Like everyone else? Like myself? Fitting into some notion of what I am, was, or should be? Not sick. Not tired. Not hurting. Oh, how I wish those were my normal. But they are not. I’m sick, tired, and hurting. This is my new normal and the sooner I accept it, the better off I will be. So how exactly should I go about accepting my new normal?
Welcome to the “No Pity-Party Zone”
There was a point, not that long ago, at which I felt very sorry for myself. I was extremely angry and full of self-pity. That was okay. I had every right to be angry. Life isn’t fair and bad things happen to good people all of the time. All of these feelings are perfectly okay and natural, even understandable. However, holding onto these feeling of “poor, pitiful me,” don’t help me to accept that my life, and the lives of the people that I love, is forever changed. Having a pity-party for myself doesn’t help me to move on and accept my new normal.
Explore the stages of grief
Before I could accept my new normal, I had grieved the person I used to be and the life I used to have. Accepting my new normal has required me to explore all of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Knowing that going through these stages is perfectly normal has helped me see that it IS possible to accept this new normal that my life has become. In looking back a bit, I can see each of these stages distinctly in my life. Going through these stages is natural for emotional healing and necessary to continue living with psoriatic arthritis.
Recognize that accepting my new normal doesn’t mean I’m giving up
It feels very easy to simply throw up my hands and admit, “Fine. If this is the way it is going to be, then I should just give up. Let psoriatic arthritis run my life, control everything, and make me miserable all of the time.” It is very tempting to get stuck in this mentality. Accepting my new normal doesn’t mean that I have the right to give up taking care of my body and participating in the world going on around me. Nor does it mean that I can quit seeking out new medicines or methods of pain relief. Accepting the way things are doesn’t necessarily mean that they will never change.
Enlist your family and friends
It can be very hard for my family and friends to see that I have changed, and therefore harder for me to accept those changes in myself. They don’t live in my body every day so how can they know that I can no longer do some of the things that I used to do? How can they remember that it takes me longer than it once did to simple tasks or recuperate from a night out? I have to be very clear with my friends and family. I have to ask for their help in accepting my new normal. I must allow them to help me without feeling guilty or as if I am a burden.
Acceptance is a process, not a destination
Remember, we didn’t develop psoriatic arthritis overnight. It progresses in stages and so must our acceptance of our new “normal life”- a life with psoriatic arthritis. Yes, many things have changed and I must accept that. However, some of the things that have not changed; my heart, my soul, my spirit, my mind, make up me and those have not changed. Accepting my new normal may seem like a huge mountain to climb, but if I hold fast to the things that have not changed, I can accept the things that have. Will I ever actually accept my new normal? I don’t know. For now, I’m okay with that.