Encouragement Can Come From The Strangest Places
Psoriatic arthritis can often feel like the gift that keeps on giving. Managing life with this chronic condition continues to come with bonus points - often leading us to more pain somehow.
Today I want to tell you how I've navigated the unknowns of this disease. Honestly, it started with nail deterioration. We use our hands for everything, which means I had to be careful in managing everything from washing dishes to holding a pencil. Forget fancy manicures. My doctors misdiagnosed me with nail fungus.
The daily impact of life with psoriatic arthritis
My delicate hands felt like they held broken crystals instead of shaped and hard nails. I felt stuck. Of course, this is not the only thing I had to manage. I was so concerned and distraught over my physical well-being that my mental and emotional health took a huge hit. Back in the day, I didn't understand this. Nobody did.
This condition utterly consumed me. I thought about different treatments and ways to improve my quality of life, make ends meet, and manage daily painful symptoms. I would lose concentration on what was going on around me.
Even while working or being in an important meeting, I was mostly thinking about my PsA and what had to be done about it in the back of my mind. It took up every minute of every day.
Managing relationships proved just as difficult
I was so unhappy. I felt entangled and irritated all the time. My symptoms so consumed me that I lost the energy to go out and meet people, especially when my skin appeared in a certain way or when my nails looked awful or my painful swollen joints wouldn't let me.
I was worried all the time, which made me Miss Grinch. My friends and family were concerned. I was alone, and nobody understood my struggle. I was losing connection with reality and just living a life controlled by my condition.
I found myself in my doctor's waiting room and struck up a conversation with another patient. We were the same age in my life, our early 20s. She asked me why I looked so sad.
Finding encouragement in the most unlikely place
I explained my situation to her. This young lady was in a wheelchair and shared with me her PsA diagnosis. She seemed so happy and at peace with her situation. I was taken aback. How could this person be happy? This disease had significantly impacted her quality of life more than mine.
My whole life revolved around this condition that I lost sight of who I truly was. Here this person is, wheelchair-bound and seemingly happy. She shared some small tools and thought breadcrumbs to manage my depressive moods and anxious thoughts.
Here is where she challenged and changed my thinking. She stated simply that we live with this disease, and it will stay with us. This is our permanent situation, and longing for a cure or dwelling on the impossible isn't helpful. She shared that I needed to focus on my well-being and what made me happy.
Making gratitude a part of my health goals
She was right. This conversation shifted my main goal, which was now my happiness. I learned to eat healthily, but I also eat what makes me happy in moderation.
I encourage you all to manage your thinking, even in the smallest of ways. Give yourself permission and self-compassion to think about the ups and downs, but please don't stay there.
It took me a while to get here, but I try and remain positive during bad times by focusing on something good every day. We all feel a little lost and hopeless, but when you take a small moment and look for the good in your life, your attitude lifts, and gratitude arrives.
This or That
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