How I Use the Pain of PsA for Something Positive
As with any unexpected hardship in life, a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) made me question, why me? What have I done to deserve this? Why did this happen to me? These questions are a natural and normal part of the grieving process that often comes with the diagnosis of a chronic illness. I would lie awake at night, in deep pain, and question, “Why I was forced to bear this burden?”
On the other hand
Maybe I didn’t do anything. Maybe the daily pain I feel and the burden I carry wasn’t inflicted by God. It wasn’t inflicted by the choices I’ve made. It wasn’t inflicted as some cosmic karma coming back to get me. Rather, living with the daily pain of PsA allows me to have a deeper understanding of the pain I share with the larger PsA community. I can use this frustration to inspire, educate, spread awareness, and offer support and understanding to others.
Waking up every day with PsA gives me a unique insight and opportunity to understand and empathize with what others are going through. I know what it is like to open my eyes each day and not know what new challenges I will have to face. By changing my focus from my own personal pain and struggles to the pain and struggles of others, I begin to feel useful and productive.
Turning something terrible into something useful and positive can entirely change your perspective on the knowledge that you will have to live every single day for the rest of your life battling PsA. Will you still have pain? Yes. Will you still struggle with coming to terms with an uncertain future? Yes. But I want to challenge you to find something positive to focus on, something that can get your mind off the pain in a productive and useful way. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Educate yourself about psoriatic arthritis
The more you know and understand about this disease that is the more you can advocate for appropriate care for yourself. Learn, read, and talk to others about psoriatic arthritis. Everyone’s experiences are different, and PsA is a complicated disease with far-reaching implications. The more you know, the more control you will have over your options for management of your disease.
Make life a little easier on each and every newly diagnosed person. If you spread awareness of what psoriatic arthritis is, then newly diagnosed people may benefit from a little more understanding and support. Start (sometimes difficult) conversations with friends and family. Clear up some of the many common misconceptions. Tell them:
“No, psoriatic arthritis is not ‘only’ for older people.”
“No, you can’t just ‘take Tylenol’ and feel better.”
“No. It is not the same ‘arthritis’ that your grandma has. That is osteoarthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is completely different.”
Take the time to push through the awkward conversation starters to really spread awareness about this disease. Wear ribbons, t-shirts, and hats- things that start conversations and make people aware of what psoriatic arthritis is and how it affects people every single day.
Support each other
Join a community of people on social media or this website who live with this disease every single day. We know what it feels like. We know that there are good days and bad days. Take the time to metaphorically lift each other up. Offer support and understanding to others who are having a rough patch. Offer warm thoughts, gentle advice, and be a friend who listens and understands. Emotional struggles like anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand with PsA. Build and contribute to a strong and supportive community and fight back against the dark times that can threaten to take over.
Just remember, we may not have a lot of control over our pain each day. But with some planning and thought, we can channel that pain and frustration into something positive and use our experiences to make a positive difference in our lives and especially the lives of others.
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