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Accepting My New Normal: A Few Tips From Someone Still Struggling

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Marieblossom
    7 months ago

    I am new here, but I totally get this! When I went through diagnosis about 11 years ago, I went through so many stages (which, honestly, made most of my symptoms much worse. Especially the 2 year pity party I threw myself) Eventually I did get to the point where I accepted that I wasn’t going to be living a pain free life. I was never getting that back. (man, I so wanted that, though. I honestly believed I needed it to move forward) Gosh, accepting that it wasn’t going to be really made my life better. I decided respecting my limits and the reality of my situation and also (for me) “buggering” through the pain was my new plan. It means now I have a very active life (I can hike, do garden work and I even do gym climbing and outdoor rock climbing). Sure, not all the time. Sometimes I can do none of that. I have to really take care of myself (eating and movement-wise) and accept that it doesn’t always happen. (and certainly often, activities come with a price to pay) I try to focus on what I can do and not what I can’t. When I am in the thick of a bad flare (about two times a year I am down for the count) I remember how blessed I am to be able to do all the other stuff when I am feeling better. I am grateful I have so few severe flares and I accept that bigger flares are also part of my life. But, yeah, took such a very long time to get here.
    Obviously with a milder disease development (I think I count as a milder arthritic now, though I have been everywhere on the map from dependant on walking sticks and nearly bedridden to the last years in a virtual remission with *just* daily pains and stiffness and very few flares) it’s easier to stay positive. So no judgement from me!

    I just want to wholeheartedly agree that acceptance is central to getting on with psoriatic arthritis life. But acceptance is hard to come by and long in the making. Everyone has their own pace and process. Thanks for writing this article!

  • Michigan Nana
    7 months ago

    I’m still hoping for a diagnosis. I’ve had psoriasis for over 50 years. And my elbows wrists and hands are hurting. They don’t have OA. Next rheumatologist appointment I plan on asking for something to take for my psoriasis. I’m stuck in depression again waiting for something, someONE to help me. Thanks for writing this Leanne. It means a lot.

  • Leanne Donaldson author
    7 months ago

    Don’t give up hope @michigan-nana 🙂 I’m sure there is someone out there that will listen and help you. Feeling alone in this can be so oppressive and contribute even more to pain and certainly depression. I often struggle to get out of that cycle of pain and hopelessness. But you are NOT alone! I am here for you. Perhaps if you can’t get in with your rheumy maybe you could check in with a dermatologist or primary care to help until you can get something more permanent. Either way, I’m here if I can help in any way. Please let me know how you are getting by this week. -Leanne, Author

  • Eileen B moderator
    7 months ago

    Many people suffer a long time (even years!) before getting a proper diagnosis for PsA, @michigan-nana. Frustratingly, their overall health often deteriorates during a protracted diagnostic process. Leanne’s article on a path to the right diagnosis is quite helpful, https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/living/path-to-right-diagnosis/ and so are her tips on getting the correct diagnosis at https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/living/psa-and-finding-the-right-diagnosis/. PsA is notoriously difficult to diagnose, so don’t hesitate to ask questions here. We get it. -Eileen, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • jennyb
    8 months ago

    I saw the title of your article today. I have a new normal and it’s no good. I dream about riding a bike, walking around town, shopping, playing with my dogs, and do lots of other things. I have no pain, only fatigue and a loss of balance, but still I don’t feel well enough to do much. Cooking is hard and making my trademark jelly is impossible. I continue to try to accept things as they are now.

  • Eileen B moderator
    7 months ago

    I totally understand why you wouldn’t want to accept a “new normal” with PsA, @jennyb! Fatigue so bad it swallows all your time, who wants to accept that?

    Your comments about bike riding and loss of balance reminded me of a uniquely cool mobility device somebody in our community shared a while back. Have you ever seen the Alinker walking bike before? Pretty neat solution, don’t you think? I hope you’ll keep fighting back against PsA, I’m rooting for you. -Eileen, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • imschmarte
    9 months ago

    Hello Leanne! I was reading your article, and bam, it hit me…. I have never grieved for the person I was pre-PsA. I was invited to every party, I was the belle of the ball. I was the one who kept everyone hysterical. I was once asked to travel with a comedian so I could laugh for him in the audience! LOL And PsA (and my whole collection of autoimmune) killed the fun, laughing, and entertaining person I was. Unlike you, I skipped the first three steps, and zoomed right on to depression and anxiety. I am no longer the party girl, in fact, most people don’t invite me anymore. And it has been this way for many, many years. Somehow I need to finish the list, and THEN accept the depression.Maybe if I do, I won’t be so depressed and anxious. Not sure, but I am going to try. What do I have to lose? Depression?? Thanks Leanne, great article as usual!!

  • tinacarlisle
    11 months ago

    These articles are so positive & I enjoy them. I however experience a change in mind along with the medication I take at times. One of the medications which is so helpful with psoriatic arthritis is Otezla & it can worsen my already existing depression. I guess I don’t really know what stage of grief I’m in but it’s somewhere close to acceptance now. So my new me and

  • jennyb
    8 months ago

    I am also on Otezla and it is working well. I also have MS and take aubagio and it too is working well. The two diseases are very similar actually.

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