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A split screen view of a woman out with a friend vs that same woman at home in bed. There is a list in the middle with a two columns, a thumbs up on the left and a thumbs down on the right.

To Go or Not to Go, That Is the Question!

We’ve all been there. Our friends have invited us to meet them somewhere. We’re excited at first, then the hour comes. How do we decide whether it’s worth it to go? Do we have enough energy, is the pain manageable, and how will we feel tomorrow? Has the fatigue monster chewed up all my energy? Is it worth the energy expenditure? Will I be depressed if I don’t go? Will I miss work tomorrow if I go tonight? Will I be able to be pleasant if the pain kicks in? What do I say when my friends ask how I am? Why do I have to think so hard about this?

Adapting to the many changes RA brings to our bodies seems to be a daily event for me. To be quite honest, I’m tired of having to be adaptable! I would like to get through one whole day where my body would behave itself. Then reality hits. My body is most likely NOT going to behave. So how do I proceed?

RA impacts my social life

Do you ever feel this way? I do, all the time. One of the most frustrating issues with RA is the unpredictability. Will I feel okay on that day? What will my friends think if I cancel? I end up weighing the benefits vs the aftermath. We are all familiar with the aftermath: sleeping 14 hours, severe pain, getting up to take pain pills and going back to bed. None of us want the aftermath, so deciding becomes critically important. How do you decide?

Pro and con lists help me decide when to be social

I am a big fan of pros and cons lists. They help me determine what’s most important. I used one yesterday and it looked a little like this:

PROS

  • I’ll see friends I haven’t seen in 3 years
  • It’s good for me to get out
  • It’s at 3 PM, not 8 PM
  • I’m off tomorrow

CONS

  • I have to drive, park & walk downtown
  • Can I manage my pain?
  • It’s in the heat of the day
  • I might have a lousy day off

So, what did I decide? Seeing friends I hadn’t seen in 3 years seemed most important. The best part? Parking was free and right in front of the venue! I enjoyed myself and was still home by 7 pm. I had a wonderful time.

Making these lists also help me listen to my body

I also have an example of a time where the cons won out:

PROS

  • I enjoy my women’s group
  • I need to get out today

CONS

  • Can I handle the noise?
  • I hurt all over from the church lunch I did
  • I’ll have to sit on a barstool

I did not go. I went home to bed and slept for 3 hours. It was definitely the right decision.

Having other social outlets

I find that by using my list, I’m able to recognize how many times I still get to go out. I choose to focus on those times. It helps me to see that RA has not won! When I can’t go out, I reach out to my friends here on RA.net and always come away with a smile.

How do you make decisions like this? Please share with all of us!

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

Comments

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    4 days ago

    Since I am not in control of my own social calendar I can only say that I find myself being brought along to social events. I have found that the many pro benefits you outline are true. However, all of the con statements are even more true.

    Shh, dont tell my wife I said that.

    Ahh, clear throat, what i mean is I love every minute of our shared and mutually agreed upon social calendar. See how much better that is?

    rick – site moderator

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    6 hours ago

    Grin and bear it, right, Rick? 🙂 Doesn’t sound like you have a choice. lol.

  • CynthiaV
    5 days ago

    As you, I mentally weigh the pros and cons. Sometimes the pros win, sometimes the cons. Yet sometimes I find I just push myself out the door for my own mental health. I am fortunate to be retired and can understand how this is not a choice for everyone with a workday following. But one thing I have discovered is that when I do push myself to go, i.e. tell myself, “I’m going” with no debating, that I generally have a very nice time and am happy I’ve done so. By going I have beaten RA. For that moment I decided not RA. For me that is a huge psychological lift. Of course, I and others can’t always do this but if it’s a coin flip I find that the less thinking about it and the more I do about it works best for me.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    5 days ago

    Thank you Cynthia! We are all unique in how we manage this disease.
    8 years ago I pushed myself into a 4 month flare, completely debilitated and on short-term disability. I encourage and cajole, but rarely push.
    We all learn our own limits. I’m thrilled you have found what works for you.
    Blessings to you,
    Mary Sophia

  • CynthiaV
    4 days ago

    And blessings to you too Mary Sophia. It will always be a tightrope walk. I’ve learned to always be gentle with myself especially when pushing. I’m sorry about your experience of the flare. Flares are both debilitating and mind numbing. I’m in one now–blah. So of course, no pushing happening here. My flare is the result of an illness that put me in a tailspin. It’s never easy balancing what might be beneficial vs. what might be potentially flare-inducing. It’s one of the larger challenges of this disease. I pray you are feeling better now. Gentle hugs.

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