As chronic-pain sufferers, we’re often told that arthritis doesn’t define us.
But when an illness takes up so much of our time, thoughts, emotions, and strength, not letting arthritis define us is pretty hard to do.
The truth is, as much as we don’t want it to overwhelm us—at one point or another, arthritis has prompted intense feelings of loss and grief. Especially once we realize that ultimately, arthritis is a disease that demands us to plan our lives around it.
Once this sinks in, we start to mourn the losses associated with our diagnosis. It’s not uncommon for arthritis sufferers to reconsider career choices, reassess priorities, and reevaluate lifestyles—and it’s actually one of the hardest things arthritis sufferers have to grapple with. When we get asked to go out after a particularly difficult day at work, for example, and we realize we don’t have the energy to spare, we tend to feel defeated by our illness. When we see people doing things that we used to love and enjoy, we start to mourn the loss of a life we could’ve had. When the subject of possibilities and the future comes up, we are overwhelmed by the uncertainty of our own.
Unfortunately, these are sentiments that don’t always get due attention. Why? Because as arthritis sufferers, we know that staying positive, hopeful, and constructive can go a long way towards managing the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of this condition.
That said, it also shouldn’t invalidate the very real feelings of loss, isolation and disappointment that arthritis sufferers go through. Because while we try not to let our arthritis get the best of us, there will be days where it will.
The truth is, it’s not always possible to look on the bright side when you’re dealing with chronic pain. It’s hard to stay positive on flare days. And you can’t always be hopeful when your pain makes you feel like you’re no longer in control of your own body. But in these instances, being self-aware about the realities of living arthritis and staying open to loved ones about what we’re going through can lead us towards getting the support we need to get through it.