Dr. Arthritis Shares: How Can I Make People Understand What I’m Going Through?

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If you live with arthritis, then you’ve probably experienced the frustration of getting loved ones to understand exactly what you’re going through.

Often, they do a lot of things and issue unwarranted advice that, even though they’re given with the best intentions, tend to emphasize the fact that they just don’t get it.

Always keep in mind though, that friends and family simply want to be supportive of what you’re going through. And it’s important that you put in the effort to educate them about the impact that arthritis has on your life. So we’ve rounded up some of the most common situations that arthritis sufferers find themselves in and give you advise on how to best handle these situations.

“No one understands the level of pain that I’m going through.”

This is true. It’s very hard to articulate the kind of pain that you experience. How can you, when you yourself find it particularly hard to wrap your head around your condition. One minute, you feel healthy and ready to take on the world. And the moment your joints flare up, you can barely get yourself out of bed.

The fact is, it’s unlikely that your loved ones are ever going to understand what you’re going through, unless they are able to experience this themselves. But you shouldn’t take this against them. You can’t expect friends and family to magically understand your pain. And as hard as it is to do, you can’t just isolate yourself from them either.

Talk to them on good days and try to explain how arthritis affects your body—how it limits your movement, how the pain feels, how it affects your way of life. This can better equip them to help you and give you support you need to get through bad days.

“I always have to explain that I’m in pain—but it’s like they don’t listen.”

This is a situation that younger arthritis sufferers often experience. When you get diagnosed with arthritis at the prime of your life, it’s hard for your friends and family members to remember that you can’t really keep up even with activities that you’d usually enjoy. As a result, you often find yourself reminding those closest to you that you can’t do something because of your diagnosis–which can be tiresome and frustrating.

It’s very likely though that your loved ones recognize your condition and know that you’re in pain, it’s just that they don’t exactly know what to do to help you. When they ask you to be part of their daily activities, even while knowing about your condition, it’s their way of letting you know that they’re there for you. This is their effort to make sure that you don’t feel isolated despite your limitations.

“People expect too much from me.”

Early into your diagnosis, you also probably expected too much of yourself. It takes time to fully understand the challenges and impact that arthritis has on your life. With time, you learn to adjust and recognize your limits, as well as take the time to manage your condition better.

The same goes for the people around you. In their case however, you have to make sure that you keep the communication lines open. You understand your body the best and you’re the one who can best explain to friends and family what you can and cannot do given your condition.

“People can’t stop giving me advice on how to cure/ manage my arthritis.”

Admittedly, this can grate on any arthritis sufferer’s nerves. The advise can range from useful to well-meaning to utterly laughable. But at the end of the day, it’s best to think of it as advice given with the kindest of intentions.

Keep in mind that the people around you will deal with your situation in very unique ways. Others have the instinct to become extra protective of you, others will try to approach you like everything is normal; others try to be as helpful as they can be, while some assume that talking about your condition every possible time is the best way to be supportive. This could, unfortunately, include, giving unwarranted advice on a condition they may not know anything about or fully understand.

Try to be patient with them. Remember that their heart is in the right place. If you open up to them and be honest about what you’re going through, they can have have more insight into your condition.

Understandably, showing patience when you’re already in pain can be a difficult feat. But coming to terms with the fact that arthritis is going to be something that they will likely never understand themselves gives you perspective on how to best approach these situations.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, feel free to leave us a comment below.

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1 Comment

  1. My immediate family are very understanding but work colleagues not so much. They don’t seem to take on board what I am saying and eventually I get fed up of effectively repeating myself. My boss is like what can we do to make it better!! It’s nice that she asks but think it’s an HR thing of I’m honest. Then when o do have time off work I get penalized and sent to occupational health for discussion about my sick leave!!! Trying my best but sometimes I wonder why!


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