I Have No Patience for Flares or Recovery

I have been told I'm a patient person when it comes to dealing with other people. I especially received a lot of compliments on my patience when I was in college and worked as a tutor and as a teacher's assistant. I loved working with students, appreciating their effort and dedication to learning, even when it was hard or took awhile.

Why, oh why, isn't it easy to be patient with myself? I can acknowledge that I have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and should be patient with myself, especially during flares. But I also have a life and responsibilities to care for, and I can't just wait around for better days.

How is psoriatic arthritis a waiting game?

Life with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is unpredictable. The smallest, weirdest things can trigger a flare. And it can make the body so sensitive - a small cold for someone else can be a weeks-long ordeal for a person using biologics.

Sometimes, it feels like it takes forever for PsA to calm down. Yes, there are exceptional good days and occasional flares that disappear overnight. But more often than not, we're spending so much time waiting. Waiting for flares to pass. Waiting for medications to kick in. Heck, it can even take a lot of waiting to get appointments with specialists and prior authorizations for medication!

It's frustrating to feel like you're constantly waiting for better days. Especially considering life won't usually slow down for us. If anything, these times seem to coincide with our busiest, most stressful points. It can start a vicious cycle of overdoing things, making it harder to recover.

Is self-compassion enough?

In an ideal world, we would be able to put a stop on everything during flares. Getting enough sleep and rest, gentle exercise, and minimizing stress would give us all a world of good. Unfortunately, we do live in reality. We have responsibilities that can't be ignored, and life won't slow down until our bodies absolutely put a stop to it.

I've written a lot about self-compassion in the past, but I'm learning you won't get far without patience, too. I haven't been very compassionate or patient with myself, as I've forced myself to push my limits during flares that required rest. Doing so made the recovery from each flare even slower. My body has started giving me severe signs it needs recovery, and now I am choosing to be patient with my body now before it forces me to have no choice.

How am I teaching myself some patience?

I had to learn to extend my body the patience I would lend to another person. Just like some students need a bit of extra help to succeed, I had to accept that I live in a body that needs a lot of extra care. It's not a bad thing, just the reality of it. Taking care of my body requires advocating for my needs, being firm on what I can and cannot do, and making decisions that don't always make me popular. Sometimes, I'll have to drop a few balls and prioritize the important things.

And most importantly, I try speak kindly to myself - something I can always do, even when I can't rest. I would never tell a student trying their best that their effort isn't enough. Nor would I yell at students to hurry up when I see them struggling. So why do I treat myself that way? Words of encouragement don't solve my problems, but like a student, it's easier to persevere when someone believes in you.

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