Giving Thanks, Just Not For RA

'Tis the season for giving thanks! While these past 2 weird years have been certainly - well- weird, there are still plenty of things for which to express gratitude. I'm thankful to have 3 vaccines, to have family, to cook delicious food and meals, and, most importantly, just to keep going in life.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has taught me a lot about being thankful and gracious — not only toward myself but also towards others. I'm not thankful to have RA by any stretch, but what I will say is that RA has given me a certain flexibility (ironic, no?) in being able to understand other people's conditions, experiences, and what they themselves have been going through during their lives.

I appreciate this version of empathy because it's helped me understand more about the way I operate and the ways in which I can take better care of myself.

Thankful for community and support

The first thing I've given thanks for this year is the community I've been able to build. Composed of friends, family, co-workers, people in the RA community, and more, this community has been there for me through it all. No matter what I've been feeling or experiencing, no matter what I've been going through, they've always had my back and have supported me.

This has been an especially trying year for me, not only because of the pandemic, but also because of personal issues - starting back graduate classes again, family stress, and just the general ennui that comes with living life right now.

Not only that, but I've also had quite a few flares because of the change I made to my Humira. But my support system has been there with me through it all, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Grateful to pursue my education

Secondly, I'm also grateful for being able to pursue my Master of Arts (MA) again this year. I had been taking a few classes here and there, but now that I'm back to working full-time, I can also go to school full-time.

I didn't realize how much intellectual stimulation I was missing in not taking classes full-time. And while it certainly has been difficult to parcel out time to complete everything — including 2 20-page papers - I've found that pursuing my MA has helped me recenter and find what is important to me.

Prioritizing what is important to me

It's also taught me the value of boundaries and time management, something that I really needed to learn when I was diagnosed with RA. You can't work all the time, you can't do everything, you can't take on all commitments - but, you can restructure and reorganize to complete the things that give you the most meaning.

It's meaningful to share my experience with others

The final thing I'm most thankful for is really quite simple: I'm thankful for writing and the opportunity to share my experience with

Every time I feel down, feel misunderstood, feel upset, etc., I can turn to this community and writing about my experience to feel better. Having the ability connect with others who have been through similar things as me is wonderful, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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