Facing My Fears

No one should live in fear. It's a vulnerable and troubled place to live. Sadly, most of us who suffer from chronic conditions like psoriatic arthritis do that.

In my experience, one thing I used to fear the most was an increase in pain.

Fear of what others think

Pain can't always be avoided, but managing life with PsA includes trigger management and physical activities that can make the window of pain smaller.

One example? Relying on my wheelchair reduces how often I experience increased pain in my feet, hips, spine, and more. However, there was a time when I allowed my fear of people questioning why I needed to use it to keep me from going out.

I knew that I would most likely experience a horrendous pain level for several weeks after the outing without it. Instead of using my wheelchair, I let my fear imprison me, even in my own home.

Facing my fear, head on.

In 2013, I decided to face my fear head-on. I learned not to let what others think stop me from doing what I wanted to do. For me, that was going to Disneyland. It had been five years since I last visited and I missed it terribly.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to walk the park as I had in the past. This meant I had to accept using a wheelchair and endure stares and comments from people who didn’t understand what it was like to live with an invisible disability.

Fast forward to today, and I am no longer fearful of what people think. Many of the Disneyland cast members, and I refer to me as Cinderella and my wheelchair as my royal carriage.

Finding freedom from my fears

When we first returned to Disneyland, I feared the pain that would follow from riding most of the attractions. I feared being bedridden for weeks on end after each visit. Not wanting to spend the weeks after each visit crying, I allowed this fear to keep me from riding many of my favorite attractions.

Two years after I began medicating with marijuana (MMJ) and a year after becoming a Disneyland Annual Passholder, I began to face this fear. I started by adding one attraction at a time and seeing just how it would affect my body.

Sometimes my body needs a day or two to recover, and other times I can play for several days in a row. Nowadays, the only rides I avoid are those that cause my nervous system to freak out or bring about a nasty case of motion sickness.

Most importantly, I have learned to accept that I will always experience some pain no matter what I do. Preparing for that spike and taking that fun comes with a price. I have escaped from my prison and spent more time making magical memories with my family.

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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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