Moving On from the RA Slowdown
RA has slowed me down. I’ve talked about it and know that to be true. But, I’m a perfectionist, someone who micromanages their life to a microscopic level, furiously and tediously planning, highlighting, and writing in the margins of my planner, stacking meetings behind more meetings. Deadlines and papers and assorted tasks continued to pile up on my desk. Always on the go. Always moving, always talking, always discussing.
Life was unsustainable
RA blew that out of the water; it forced me to recognize that that form of life was increasingly unstable and unsustainable for me. It made me realize that I was not happy. At all. I was simply existing to go to school, do work, and come home and sleep, continuing that soul-crushing cycle every day. While RA brought with it a lot of pain, suffering, confusion, and angst, I’m reaching a point now where I can genuinely consider the good things that RA ushered into my life.
Reflecting on my achievements
RA has taught me that I am resilient. My body has gone through so many traumas that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone in this life. Active joint pain, swelling, fatigue, and headaches follow with me wherever I go. Despite these changes, I have been able to be successful. I was able to graduate college during the brunt of the proverbial RA storm, finishing with double honors and landing a job. Yes, RA slowed down my progress but it showed me that I am capable of fighting back and making my determination to live a better quality of life resolute.
Resilience and fear
Moreover, RA has taught me to face my fears head-on. Between bloodwork every three months — something which I would actively avoid at all costs — and Humira every two weeks, my fear of needles is slowly subsiding. In addition, my experience with RA showed me the value in facing my more abstract fears with power and resolution. My mind is constantly bombarded by such thoughts as: “Where am I going in my life?” “What will I be doing in a year? 5 years? 10 years?” and “What do I want out of this life?”
With the limitations this disease brings, I’ve been forced to wrestle with these thoughts and make steps toward truly outlining what I want my life to be, instead of simply wallowing in confusion. This was something I had not realized I needed so badly. I recognize now that in this life with RA, I want to have genuine human experiences. I want to feel compassionately and truthfully. I want to feel liberated and creatively fulfilled. I want to tangibly contribute to the world around me. And RA roots me in that reality.
Power in telling my story
While I do consider myself a rather introspective person, RA uniquely cultivated and magnified that quality within me. Between talking about my condition with my friends and through this community, I’ve come to realize that there is power in telling the story of my diagnosis, of my condition, of how my body is responding and reacting to the new stimuli presented to it every day.
There is power in looking into myself and disseminating that throughout the ether of this existence. There is power in taking the time to consider and reflect on how much and how quickly life changes. There is power in fully accepting that my life will never be the same as it was before my diagnosis. And that there is power in saying that that is okay.
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