Monday, October 15, 2012

On Being Put in My Place

Have you ever just been skipping through life, thinking things were okay when, suddenly, life shows you exactly who's boss? It might be something insignificant like doing something embarrassing or maybe it's something more important, like losing your job. I've had a bit of both sides of the spectrum lately.

RA really put me in my place. It took the wind out of my sails, planted doubts and insecurities that bloomed into depression and anxiety. For a while I tried to fight it, I thought I was just overtired from school and work. I tried cutting back to just school. That worked for a while, but before long I could not longer handle classes either. I kept telling myself that I just needed a break, that I would feel better soon. Every time I made adjustments to my life, RA pushed back harder and faster and I found myself making adjustments all over again. 

When I finally succumbed, I was left with no job, no classes, no energy, no confidence, and an ever dwindling pool of optimism. For almost 5 months, I hid myself from the world, from my friends and family, even tried to hide from my fiance which is pretty difficult with him in the same house. I was (and still am) in so much pain that I would rather sleep than be awake and able to feel that pain. I couldn't talk about what I was going through because I didn't know how. The very thought of verbalizing how I felt brought me to tears. I felt that I had lost everything that made me who I am. I felt I no longer had any value as a human being. What was I contributing? What could I possibly offer anyone?

The sheer speed and aggression with which RA took over my body left me in utter bewilderment. I couldn't see how I would possibly recover from a disease that is known to get worse over time and, in less than a year, had decimated all that I had worked so hard to achieve. 

A close friend had been on my case all those months about the way I was coping. Some things she said were insensitive - like how I shouldn't take pain medication because I would become addicted. But some things she said were spot on, like how I needed a support group or some form of therapy. I ignored her advice for a long time, because I simply wasn't ready to talk about it yet. And that was okay. Considering what RA took from me, I think I was entitled to a mourning period.

When I finally did look for support, I found an online forum (MD Junction's RA Group) that gave me a place to vent the frustration and anger I had been holding inside for so long. The members there are supportive above all else and they are kind. But I also felt the need for some form of friendship, some comradery, something to make this new state of existence feel more normal. For that I found Squeaky Joints

Between both these amazing groups, I have found some rather extraordinary friends. And for the last few weeks I have felt almost normal, talking to others, joking and laughing like I haven't in many months, and feeling a sense of belonging. I wanted to do something to show my new friends how much I care about our plight and maybe I was even trying to prove to myself that I still had some value. 

So I made the RA Map. And for a couple of days, I felt like I was worth something again and I was doing some good. And then life came along and put me in my place. I had been misunderstood about the map, it wasn't what people assumed it was. The overanalytical worrier in me is thinking everyone is angry with me. The bulk of the info tied to the map is gone and I'm back to square one. And now I feel like I did five months ago - isolated, alone.

There is one key difference this time: I know the feeling won't last. The Pre-RA me would never have given much thought to an event so relatively insignificant. But as I am stripped of my pride, confidence, my accomplishments that bolster my self-worth, this insignificant event is a set back. But only for the moment. 



I don't think anyone is angry with you, but i totally understand the way you feel. I think its really common for those of us who have basically lost all illusion of control of our lives. I learned a long time ago I never really HAD control, but that doesn't mean I don't frequently grieve, tantrum or withdraw. I just know that it too, will pass, and life will go on, with some good days, some not so good. I hope you feel better and hit a high note soon!


Thanks Petey :)

On a rational level, I know that it's not a big deal. But you're right about the control... I was always a control freak before and putting together the map made me feel useful and in control again! I didn't realize how much emotion was riding on it until afterwards.

But I'm already starting to get over it, so I know I'm regaining some emotional elasticity already :)

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