Psoriatic Arthritis and Mental Health: Regrets
Feelings are funny things. As complex humans, we are faced with complex feelings that include a variety of happiness, sadness, disgust, and anger. In addition to these default feelings, there is also a spectrum of emotions that we don't always have adequate words to describe them.
Our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls are all tied together. Our bodies do not exist independent of our thoughts and feelings. Each part is interconnected with the other. That said, the physical pain from my psoriatic arthritis is intricately linked with my emotional and mental health.
Connecting mental health and PsA pain
In a world filled with concrete things, feelings can seem a little too ambiguous, a little too “touchy-feely” if you will. It is easy in our busy, day-to-day lives to push some of the feelings we have about life with psoriatic arthritis aside, in favor of simply labeling everything a product of our pain and fatigue.
Feeling sad? Yeah, I’m hurting today. Apathetic? Uninterested? Yep, the fatigue is overwhelming my brain.
But if we slow down long enough to notice, there’s a whole host of feelings to process in life simply because we live with the gift that keeps on giving, psoriatic arthritis. And our PsA is only one facet of our lives.
With pain, comes regret and guilt
While we're in the lane of talking about mental health, let's talk about guilt. And of course, you can’t have regret without a truckload of guilt sprinkled on top. Not a single day goes by when I’m not plagued with regret and guilt for one reason or another because of my PsA.
I regret that I didn’t see the signs and symptoms sooner for what they were. I regret that I didn’t push harder or make so many excuses. I even regret that I broke down and let my body win so many daily battles. I regret the events I’ve missed and the friends I’ve lost.
These feelings: regret, guilt, and even sometimes shame, sneak into my foundation like tiny cracks and fissures weakening the foundation of a basement. They sneak into my subconscious before I can reason them away or distract myself enough to forget about them for a time.
The impact on mental health is real
As much as I wish I was the only one that had to carry these regrets of a life lived with psoriatic arthritis around, I know I’m not. A study titled Systematic Review of Mental Health Comorbidities in Psoriatic Arthritis found that “One in three patients with psoriatic arthritis has at least mild anxiety, while 1 in 5 reported at least mild depression.”1
Feelings of regret, guilt, and shame are all tied to our anxiety and depression. And let’s face it, with what our psoriatic arthritis throws at us on a daily basis, it’s only logical that our mental and emotional health would be impacted.
But here is the good news. And those of you who have lived with this disease longer, or are perhaps better at managing your feelings than me probably already know this. But I think I’ve figured out the antidote for some of my PsA-related regrets. It’s forgiveness.
Finding forgiveness and self-compassion
I need to forgive the doctors who didn’t listen, who judged me and made mistakes. Yeah, you could (and probably should) couple it with years of therapy and expensive doctors (of which, I’m obviously not). But at its root, I truly believe that the only way to get past a great deal of the pain of PsA-related regret is forgiveness.
Each step we take towards improving our mental and emotional health and wellbeing fortifies us for future challenges of life with PsA. I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t find this process very easy. It doesn’t come naturally to me and who knows, five years from now I may call myself an idiot for even trying.
It’s just one of the many unknowns that come with life with PsA. But if I am going to do my best to keep myself both physically and mentally as healthy as I possibly can, then I know I have to at least try.
Just do the best you can
But what I do know is that every single one of us with PsA is just doing the best that we can, every single day, to love our families, make our way through life, and manage both the physical and emotional parts of life with psoriatic arthritis.
Have you ever applied for disability?