I used to think about "Survival Mode" as a reserved point in our lives in which we are maybe lost in the forest or desert, doing all we can to find food and shelter. Perhaps it can even apply to those first 3 weeks with a new baby. That’s all about Survival Mode for sure. You know what I mean?
Managing what life throws at us
Life is full of different modes, or points in time in which define how we manage what life throws at us.
There’s "Coasting Mode," which is one of my favorites. When everything just seems to flow. There aren’t too many hills or valleys, we are just coasting along. I believe that most “healthy” people spend the majority of their life in this mode.
Then there is "Excel Mode," this one is a rare beast. Generally reserved for those times of remission, or the fleeting moments when all the medications are working in sync. Excel Mode is something of legend, kind of like Bigfoot. People talk about it. Some people claim to have seen it. But there is little evidence that it actually exists.
But more often than not these days, I live in Survival Mode.
Living in survival mode
Survival Mode makes it difficult to plan ahead. The farthest ahead I can think in Survival Mode is maybe 24 hours out. It is barely all I can do to get a glimpse of the end of the tunnel. In Survival Mode, everything is done moment to moment. There is no planning. There are no preparations. Survival Mode is all about getting by.
How does this apply to life with psoriatic arthritis?
Depending on where you are in your treatment cycle, (either still finding a medicine that works or living treatment to treatment) your Survival Mode might look a little different.
Waiting to find something that works
In my experience, living in Survival Mode while you are waiting to find a medication that “works” is the absolute worst. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, nor do you have any idea when you might get any relief. There you sit, pumping chemical after chemical into your body, hoping each day that you will notice even the slightest difference. Survival Mode while you are waiting to find a medication feels absolutely never-ending.
Survival Mode, while you are waiting to find a medication, means that only the bare minimum of living gets done. You can’t cook. You can’t clean. Chances are if you work outside the home, very little is getting done there either. I remember praying nightly that life in Survival Mode would just end. The world passed me by. I wasn’t even an active and willing participant in living my own life.
Survival Mode while waiting for your next PsA treatment
Survival Mode, while you are waiting for your next treatment, is a whole different thing. When you have found something that at least “sort of” works it’s like you have a glimpse of what life should look like. But every treatment has its own peaks and valleys.
There is a natural flow (if you will) from treatment to treatment. No matter if it is a week or 3 months between treatments. It takes a bit of time to work, then it works well for another bit of time, finally quitting altogether before your next round of treatment is up, at least in my experience.
Survival Mode between treatments
Survival Mode falls in those time periods just after and just before your treatment. With this form of Survival Mode sometimes can come a bit of panic. What if my next treatment doesn’t work? Will I have to stay like this forever? What if something happens and I can’t get my next treatment on time?
The only thing keeping me putting one foot in front of the other is knowing that relief is on the horizon. Feeling better and catching up with my life is just out of my grasp and that keeps me going until I can push on and get out of Survival Mode.
I just keep telling myself, one foot in front of the other, just keep going...
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