What Defines You?

What defines you? Is it the way you dress, how you talk, the way you walk into a room? Or are you many things, not held back by a single definition? Most of us strive to avoid being put in a box or pigeonholed by a particular trait, fighting it tooth and nail.

Learning to live with psoriatic arthritis

When someone is diagnosed with a disease, such as PsA, it can become doubly challenging to not allow themselves to be defined by their condition. Facing the way it will impact their lives, making concessions and changes to daily routines to accommodate the way it can attack their physical ability and absorbing every bit of information out there to learn how best to live with the disease can easily become all-consuming.

Not allowing PsA to encompass your life while still honoring its impact

As a person trying to support that individual, we can amplify the definition without realizing it. In our attempts to be helpful we can easily fall into a trap. PsA is always present and always at the forefront of the minds of those impacted by it. How do we, as caregivers and companions, not allow it to encompass everything while still honoring its impact? It’s far too easy to associate our loved one’s identity with their disease and frankly, it’s completely unfair to them to do so. They were made up of countless traits prior to their diagnosis and those characteristics didn’t magically dissolve into the ether the day they came home with PsA. It is our jobs to remind them of who they were, are and always will be all around auto-immune disease or not.

Remember that not everything is related to PsA

This doesn’t mean we ignore or neglect what ails them, it just means we have to treat them as a whole person, not just our friend with chronic pain. We have to remember that not every single thing our loved one does is in direct relation to the disease. They don’t need us to immediately assume that a day they’re being crabby is because they’re in pain. Maybe they’re just in a bad mood. I challenge any woman who hasn’t wanted to bite the head off of anyone who ever said, “Oh are we PMSing today?” when we know quite well that we were just livid because of any number of outside elements that had nothing to do with hormones. Being constantly equated with a disease has the same effect. Or how many times in an attempt to be supportive have we said something along the lines of, “Don’t overdo it.” Or “You need to eliminate that stress, you don’t want to spark a flare.” First of all, maybe it’s ok to overdo it every now and again. Maybe they need to know they can push themselves beyond the safety zone and that’s ok. Oh, and that stress less comment, don’t we realize that if anyone truly knew how to eliminate stress, they’d do it? How ridiculous can we be?

Being a supportive friend or caregiver

This doesn’t mean we pretend PsA doesn’t exist or that we don’t continue to look out for those we care about or occasionally cut them some slack because we believe they’re behaving a certain way because they are in pain. What it means is we need to be sensitive to the fact that the people we love are the people we love with all their good, bad and crazy moods and habits. The disease didn’t change them, and we can’t let it change us or our relationships.

So, maybe we need to bite our tongues every now and again. There are enough people in the world who define others by one thing or another. We owe it to ourselves and those we care about to remember the only definition that matters is that of kindness, strength, and love.

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.

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