Managing Feelings of Isolation
There are many words used to describe physical pain. Hot, tingling, radiating, sharp, or throbbing, just to name a few. But when it comes to dealing with the emotional effects of this disease, it can be very difficult to find the right words to describe some of the stronger emotional implications of day-to-day life with psoriatic arthritis. One of the strongest feelings I struggle with is isolation.
Every experience of psoriatic arthritis is unique
Psoriatic arthritis can be so pervasive, so encompassing, that there are very few areas of my life that it doesn’t touch. It can be hard to feel like I am understood, like anyone can really empathize with my daily life. Similar to the basic human experience, each person is unique as is our experience of the world around us. The experience of PsA is unique to each person and the range of possible symptoms seemingly endless from person to person. Feeling isolated and lonely sometimes is perfectly natural.
What makes it so isolating?
Given the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis, the more common cousin of PsA, psoriatic arthritis affects a significantly smaller percentage of the population so finding others who deal with things unique to PsA can be difficult. I know my family and friends struggle to truly understand what living with this disease is really like for me. On top of that, I often feel conflicted because I wouldn’t WANT anyone I love (or anyone else for that matter) to have to live with the daily struggles of this disease. Even if it meant that more people would understand it.
Why is it so difficult to explain?
Psoriatic arthritis can literally attack any joint, muscle, tendon, or organ in our bodies. This includes things we tend to take for granted like our eyes, ears, and even our mouth. It goes beyond the obvious joints in our hands and feet. It includes fatigue, stomach and digestion issues, and anxiety. I experience a range of these symptoms, plus more.
Despite my knowledge that there are so many others that struggle with many of the same issues, and many people experience symptoms to a greater degree, I can’t help but feel so alone sometimes. It is beyond logic and reason. It doesn’t make sense. But I guess that's just the way it is with emotions sometimes. There isn’t always a clear, rational explanation for what we feel.
What are the effects of these feelings of isolation?
Sometimes my feelings of isolation can lead to anger, jealousy, and even resentment. Feeling so alone can start a downward spiral that can only make things worse. Soon feelings of isolation are replaced by so much more. Depression and anxiety can overwhelm even the strongest person and leave us physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
What can we do to feel like we aren’t so alone and isolated?
Reach out. Offer a hand to others. Take the focus off yourself, your situation, and your experience. Focus your thoughts and energies outward, towards others and you will see that even though your experience is unique, sharing it can help heal the wounds caused by your feelings of isolation. Listening and responding to the stories and experiences of others can replace anger and anxiety with light and compassion. Replacing the burden of this disease with hope for the future and rays of light in the darkness.
Will you help others by taking our Psoriatic Arthritis In America survey?