RA Acceptance vs Surrender

Some people believe that accepting and moving forward with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis may lead to surrendering to it as well. I am not one of those people. I think that fighting the reality of the diagnosis may lead to some unwelcome and potentially dangerous outcomes.

It is quite natural to question an initial diagnosis of RA and that is to be expected. I believe that getting a second or even a third opinion is wise and, in fact, advisable. But once you have gone through all of the steps to confirm a diagnosis, it then behooves you to begin the full phase of acceptance to fully and successfully manage the disease.

Acceptance versus surrender

In the case of RA, acceptance to me means that, within the realm of human psychology, a person assents to the reality of a situation. On the other hand, surrender, in the case of RA, may mean giving up or submitting to the power of the disease over you. The latter can spell serious trouble and a lack of energy and ability to manage your RA.

Acceptance allows us to move forward

Acceptance allows us to move forward with a plan to cope and manage while surrendering leaves us with few options and leads to a sense of doom, loss, and hopelessness.

I think in the early stages of the disease when we feel lost and overwhelmed by the harsh symptoms, the life-altering changes, etc., it is tempting to give in or surrender to the disease. We may feel RA’s progression is intense and the negative outcomes inevitable.

The truth is that with the myriad treatments available today, nothing is set in stone when it comes to managing RA.

What does accepting an RA diagnosis look like?

Decades ago, the outcome of an RA diagnosis was much worse than it is today. That is the good news we should all be grateful for. That does not mean that it is an easy or predictable road, however.  

Accepting the reality of RA is actually a positive first step in successfully managing the disease. This does not happen the instant you hear the diagnosis. It happens at different times for different people. 

Some of us need to do our own mental processing, our own research and take the time to let the reality of RA sink in before we can fully accept the diagnosis. To my way of thinking, that is normal and to be expected. That said, once you do accept it, it is critical that you move beyond that stage and begin to ask yourself and your care team, "What now?"

How do I move pass the crossroads?

As the acceptance of RA begins to settle in, you may find yourself at a crossroads. Do I move beyond this, find strategies to cope, alter my life to manage RA? Or, am I doomed to a life of pain and misery and I just need to give in to it? 

The option of acceptance yields positivity and joy

Making that choice seems obvious, but when we are dealing with the uncertainty, pain, life-altering effects, and brain fog of a difficult diagnosis like RA, surrender can be pretty appealing. This is where the "rubber meets the road" as they say.

If you can take a pause and calmly examine your options, more than likely, you will see that acceptance and all of the options that come with it can make your life with RA not only bearable but one filled with positivity and joy.


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