A Pain in the Friendship
Last updated: June 2022
Managing life with a chronic condition like PsA, we never know what we will wake up with. It is as unpredictable as the weather. That alone is saying something, as we can sometimes experience having four seasons in four days.
Psoriatic arthritis and its symptoms play such a significant role in our lives. They are a part of almost every decision and commitment we make. It often feels like the condition itself runs our lives.
How psoriatic arthritis impacts friendships
I mean, we don't see our friends and family like we used to. In addition to managing the pain and guilt, getting friends, family, and anyone else to grasp what we are going through seems virtually impossible. Personally, I believe managing life with a chronic illness can only be understood if you live with one.
This condition is draining. Our energy is tapped like a tap taking maple syrup from a tree. Slowly and steadily. And it's not that we're doing much - it's our body responding to the pain. Simply existing with pain makes us tired.
Many people in our lives may not know what this means to us, and I hope that this article will bring some understanding or even some insight into what this means for us.
What a good day looks like...
Some days I wake up raring to go. I jump, very slowly, out of bed and start my day easier than any other day. These days, I can take on more than I would usually be able to. Please make no mistake. I take full advantage of this. I attempt to get as much done and get out and see friends and loved ones.
The thing is, I never know how long this will last. It might be one day, or it might be seven days. I mean, it is hardly ever seven days, but you know, one can hope.
These days do not mean that I have no pain. It just means that my pain is bearable to a functional level. Everyone around me loves these days. These days boost connections and solidify relationships. Often people will comment how it's nice to see me being my old self and so happy. Goodness, how great it feels to be functional.
Don't worry, I'm frustrated too.
The chances are that after a productive and busy day like that, I will begin feeling so great. After the high of being overly productive, the days that follow call for a much slower pace and will often result in me canceling plans.
Simply getting up, getting dressed, and getting ready is too exhausting. This often leaves people frustrated with me. I get that. It makes sense to me. I, too, am frustrated.
Knowing my body well enough, I often have to make choices about these things that are not always what I want to do. There is always a price to pay for pushing your body too hard.
What a severe flare day can look like...
These are the worst, and they are known for coming at the most opportune times. I have had to cancel weddings, birthday celebrations, and family lunches. Hearing the disappointment in the voice of my loved ones when I explain. It simply breaks my heart.
They say they understand and hope I feel better, but there is a definite impact on our relationships in the long term. These days call for staying in bed and attempting to find a way to sit or lay less painful than the previous one.
This is by no means a comfortable or pleasant experience. Guaranteed, we would instead be dancing the day away, going for a walk, or simply doing our wash.
Thankful for the true ones
The days of canceling plans can leave a lasting impact on certain friendships and relationships. If your friends and family make you feel guilty for prioritizing your health and setting a boundary - I'm telling you now that they do not have your best interest. Who needs them? You shouldn't care what someone thinks if they don't seemingly care about you.
But let's give a round to the true ones - the golden ones in between. The people who genuinely do not mind even when they are disappointed. The ones who show up with dinner delivered because they know that you won't have it in you. They will postpone lunches and help you with washing.
They are out there. I truly hope that every single one of you surviving this painful condition has someone like this in your life.
This or That
Do you know what type(s) of psoriatic arthritis you have?
Do you have any questions about PsA?