Psoriatic Arthritis Flares: Life in Survival Mode
Life with psoriatic arthritis certainly has its ups and downs. There are times when your pain and other symptoms are minimal. While they still affect you, you're able to make it through the day without too much effort.
Then when things finally feel bearable, a flare-up comes around and makes it simply difficult to get by.
Surviving psoriatic arthritis flares
There are flares that make life a little harder and more painful, and then there are flares that completely knock the wind out of you. You know the kind. The ones that drain every ounce of energy from your body and leave you with never-ceasing pain. Those flares never seem to end.
Sometimes, you don't have a choice but to keep on going until you can't anymore. I often refer to this as being in "survival mode". I've felt like I was running on survival mode plenty of times, especially while I was in college and at the start of my career.
These times aren't easy in any sense: physically, mentally, and emotionally. They were the most isolating periods I've had in my life. Isolating, not just because I wasn't up to seeing others or even talking to them, but because I choose not to let many others in.
Finding myself in isolation
I'm not open with many about when I'm in survival mode. The way my life changes makes me feel ashamed of myself, so it's easy to feel the need to hide. If I let people in, they wouldn't see me mustering every last ounce of energy I have so I can go to work.
They wouldn't see me trying every last trick in the book to soothe what feels like a never-ending case of the flu. No. What they'd see is the pizza boxes and undone chores and assume I'm lazy and need to keep pushing myself.
Some of these feelings are assumptions, of course. But they're not assumptions I made without knowing better. Unfortunately, most of us have gone through having a loved one judge us for not pushing on despite hardships or dropping the ball. It's easy to isolate during these times to avoid letting others down or to avoid the criticism.
Give yourself some grace
Something I ask myself during these times is, "how would I treat a friend in my shoes?" I would never be disappointed in a friend going through the same situation.
I would want them to reach out and not feel embarrassed. I'd hope they'd let me help them out if I were able. There are plenty of tips I can give you to get you through these times. So many have come up with cleaning hacks, and more.
But the most important thing is to provide yourself with the same compassion you would give a friend in the same situation. You wouldn't judge them for needing extra help: you would want to be there for them in any way possible.
Be your own cheerleader
Give yourself the kindness you wish others would. Ask for help, if it's available. But most importantly, be your own cheerleader. I know it's so much easier said than done, but it's essential.
It isn't easy to keep moving forward during a flare, but being forgiving and compassionate towards yourself goes far.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?