How Caring For My Mental Health Helps Treat My PsA
Emotions play a huge role in my physical well-being as well as my mental health. While depression, anger, anxiety, stress, and sadness aren’t the sources of the pain caused by psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis, they do increase my pain level and sometimes trigger flares. Caring for my mental health doesn’t mean that I avoid or refuse to acknowledge those emotions, but instead it’s a plan to limit how much I experience through how I live my life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
I used to be someone who got angry at the slightest of inconveniences, such as traffic jams, long lines at the grocery store, or being put on hold. The anger would fester and grow to the point that it would take over my mind making it impossible to see what was good in my life. In the past six years, I have learned to stop sweating the small stuff. Instead of letting the stupid things people say echo in my head, I let them roll off of my back. Instead of getting angry about a 45 minute drive taking three hours, I use that time to listen to relaxing or upbeat music and to catch up on my favorite podcasts.
Letting go of what I can't control
The guilt I felt for having to cancel plans whenever I experienced an extreme flare would last for days, weeks, and often months after the fact. It not only increased my daily pain, it fueled my depression which led to my not wanting to make plans or to even leave the house. I am not a saint, just like everyone else, I make mistakes and when I do, I own it! But there was and still is nothing I can do to prevent a severe flare. I had to let it go and find ways to move forward. Accepting that I can’t do everything I want in life was the first and most important step I had to take. Acknowledging that canceling one outing didn’t have to result in sentencing myself to a stint in prison freed me to live again.
Filling my life with joy
Not only couldn’t I recognize what was good and joyful in my life when I was sweating the small stuff and hanging on to guilt, I purposefully punished myself. Feeling like a failure made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of enjoying life. To remedy this it meant that I also had to let go of expecting someone else to bring joy into my life, to fix my problems, or improve my health. This was something that only I could do. I did this by finding hobbies and activities that didn’t increase my pain. I limited my consumption of television shows, movies, and music that would whip up a firestorm of these unwanted emotions. Getting through hard times also became easier because I am no longer weighed down by feelings of despair and sadness. The joy I have sprinkled into my life has given me strength to get through some moments that would have broken me in the past.
It is unrealistic to expect to never experience or to think I can avoid all feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, etc., because life is filled with moments that will shake even the strongest person to their core. I do however have the ability to limit how much of my life these emotions are taking up by accepting what is, letting go of what I can’t control, and not waiting for someone else to make me happy. The less time I spend fixated on negative emotions, the more time and energy I have to focus on treating my true pain sources and reducing my overall pain levels.
How do you care for your mental health?
If you are struggling with depression and/or anger, I urge you to seek help. Depression is serious and if not addressed it will destroy your life.
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?