In Need of a Confidence Boost
I've never had difficulty with confidence. I’m like a duck in the rain. Mistakes happen, I acknowledge them, I learn and move on. That’s life. I do admit there is one thing that really shakes me and it’s called Rheumatoid Arthritis.
This measly little condition brings out all my demons, physically and mentally, and I become less confident and more doubtful.
Morale is a fickle thing. It comes and goes as easily as the sun rises and sets and I find my entire life affected.
How RA affects self-confidence
Let me start with the physical side. I am not your typical beauty. I have interesting features and I’m proud of them (surprise, surprise). However, RA wreaks havoc on my appearance. I get obvious rashes, bumps, lumps, patches scars and veins. My joints swell asymmetrically and they get visibly red and warm.
I am especially self-conscious about my feet. A couple of years ago my big toes stopped growing. They are brittle, thick and discolored. I wrap my toes and play it off as a climbing injury, but they look bad and people notice.
Constantly worrying about different interactions
Mentally, RA destroys confidence even more. I worry about everything. How do I look? Am I capable? Can everyone tell I’m sick? Do people judge me behind my back? Do they think I’m an idiot when I slur my words or struggle with vocabulary? Do they make fun of me when I can’t open a packet of food? How do I maintain my relationships? How do I talk to people without sounding self-absorbed or seeking pity?
How I boost my self-confidence
My chronic illness drains my confidence faster than it drains my energy but I have to keep up appearances. I can’t rely on my brain to stay positive because once I’m in a negative space I stay there. So I’ve come up with a couple of tricks to keep my spirits high.
Remind myself of what I am good at
First, I do things I’m good at. When I do well, I remind myself I am not just managing but actually talented.
Do things that make me happy
Second, I do things that make me happy. I love nail polish and makeup. I am proud when I find pain-friendly ways of playing with them. I use bright colors because I love them. They make me feel alive and pretty (and hopefully distract from any physical flaws).
Vocalize and negate my worries
Third, I vocalize and write. I say my worries out loud. I let the universe hear them. I then write them down and negate them.
“I can’t stand for a full day of work because my feet are so swollen and painful.” I change it to “I will keep up with full-time work by taking frequent sitting breaks and stretching as often as possible.”
It's no secret RA robs me of my confidence but without that determination, my life would be a disaster. How can I work, how can I socialize and how do I pursue opportunities in life? Confidence is a fickle thing but it’s necessary for me to continue my life with an invisible illness.
How do you stay confident?
Has menopause impacted your RA?