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The Weariness of RA

I think that for many of us who suffer for years with RA, the overall weariness of it all can certainly escalate as time goes on. I am not referring to the physical fatigue of the disease. What I am talking about is the complete mental exhaustion of managing a chronic disease like RA.

The mental burden of managing RA

I am finding that I have days now when I simply do not want to even consider anything associated with RA. Not the medications I need to take, not the management I need to employ, not the vigilance of the symptoms, etc. I think I have always had days like this. Lately, they seem to be happening more and more often. I wonder if it is just some kind of disease fatigue. I suspect many of you feel this as well.

There is never a break from RA

It seems it may very well be that the years and years of having to manage RA are wearing us out. Like anything intense that takes your undivided attention, we need a break! I know in the work world, when I was knee-deep in a crisis or a particularly demanding project, it wore on me. I was so happy when the crisis passed or the project was completed. I could take a break, breathe a sigh of relief. With RA, there is no passing of the crisis or completion of the disease. It will always be with us. Add to that, years and years of management and that accounts for this sense of weariness.

How to take care of yourself

Try to let go of worrying thoughts

So, as I always like to do, let’s consider some strategies to counter the weariness.One way to handle this is to simply let it happen. By that I mean, when you feel this sense of overall weariness, embrace it. Let go of the RA management for a time. Not the essential parts like taking your medication, etc. But the other aspects that so occupy our thoughts day in and day out. Put it away for a time. Enjoy a respite for a bit.

Find a positive distraction

Go away for a short trip if you can, have a day of pampering, do something new and exciting. Distractions that are positive and give us relief are always a good strategy for dealing with weariness. Go to a movie or play, try a new restaurant.

Discover a new hobby or activity

Try a new exercise like Tai Chi, really do some research into finding a new hobby or volunteer activity that takes your mind off your RA and all that goes with it.

Talk to your health care team

Talk to your Care Team about this. They may have some suggestions for your specific situation. If you find that the weariness deepens into depression, talking with your physician is essential. 

Take care of your mental health

Managing our mental well-being is equally as important as our physical health. It needs the same attention and consideration. Too often we focus our energies on the physical side or RA, to the detriment of our mental health and the role it plays in coping with a chronic disease.

The management of RA can create a sense of weariness that is not easy to manage but if you can acknowledge it and share it with your Care Team it can be managed just like any other aspect of our RA.

Nan

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

  • Bets
    3 months ago

    Thank you Nan, I needed to hear that. I appreciate your honesty about weariness. It choked me up, sometimes it’s just so hard…

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    Bets, RA can be so mentally exhausting. It is a 24/7 condition that requires constant vigilance. I am sorry Nan’s wonderful write up chocked you up, but know that most of us feel the same. Take care my friend.

    Rick – (site moderator)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Becca, Yes brand new. I have been doing for a few weeks on the Ankylosing Spondylitis site and I was asked if I might like to be a moderator on the RA site. I am still trying to get used to the new role. 🙂

  • BeccaFloyd
    3 months ago

    Hi Rick! Just noticed the “site moderator” next to your sign off, is this a new development, or were you always in that capacity?

  • ruiznjatx
    3 months ago

    Nan – I agree 100%! Ad in a few other chronic conditions, and it just gets overwhelming. (Think asthma, Sjogren’s, IBS, osteopenia…) I’m sure that others with chronic conditions (diabetes, MS, etc.) get to feeling the same way. My niece’s husband is a second year resident in family practice. We were talking about how things were going; he said adult medicine was his least favorite because of all the patients with multiple chronic conditions. I looked at him, and said, “Yep. All day. Every day.” I saw a light switch on when I said this. I think he realized that no matter how frustrating working with people with chronic conditions can be, it’s even worse when you are the one who actually HAS the conditions.

    Just think. You know you might have RA if you have more doctors in your address book than friends! You know you might have RA when you can barely walk one day but can skip right along in a day or two resulting in your friends thinking that you might be a few bricks short of a load. You know you might have RA when you apologize when you see a new doctor for the first time and have to go over your history and med list.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    ruiznjatx –

    What you said about medicine and seeing a new doctor is so correct. I carry around a small list in my billfold. When I get it out the common expression is something along the lines of you have to be kidding. Something about a list of 16 medications does shock the system a little bit.

    I wish you well and thank you for the chuckle.

    Rick – Site Moderator (spelling aficionado F class)

  • betharooski
    3 months ago

    Hi Guys- I have enjoyed my pet cat as a therapy. He is happy to sit in my lap or sleep near my feet. It feels good to my hands to rub a living, warm, soft non-judgmental furry friend. He has learned to stay out from under my feet so I’m not afraid of falling. Think about what makes u relax and try it more often. I also love visual diversion such as the travel channel, PBS channel or the magazines and cds and/or dvds from the library. We have a drive up return box which is helpful!

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 months ago

    Those are great suggestions betharooski. So glad you’ve found some things that bring you relief. Your sweet kitty sounds like a wonderful therapy and I bet you bring him joy as well. Thanks for sharing. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • LindaE
    3 months ago

    Great article and replies — very useful. About 6 months ago I was very down in the dumps — realizing that I would never be “normal” again. The pain, fatigue, and mind numbing brain fog was really getting to me. My goal in life seemed to be — get through one more day!

    Reading some of the newsletters helped and I decided that I was really being negative about my life and myself, so I decided to keep track of things. Not a journal or anything time consuming, just something short that I could quickly go back over.

    I decided to use Google calendar and make quick color coded entries. “Good Sleep” (green for go!), “Bad sleep” (red for stop), “Got some thing done” (green), “Pain all day” (red), etc. It really helped.

    I could look back and quickly see patterns to all “red” days, or “green” days, or a mix. I also started to include other things like — started new med, exercised, did something fun.

    It also helped me on the days that you thing nothing is going to change and things are just always going to be terrible. I could look back and see the positives, even some weeks that were almost all green!

    It is very hard to live with a chronic, incurable disease, but as most of these articles and replies indicate — it IS possible. And it also beats the alternative!

  • JudiAnn
    3 months ago

    I’m newly diagnosed and I love this idea! Such a time saver. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 months ago

    LindaE, LOVE that idea! What a great suggestion to keep track in an easy, manageable way and help yourself focus on the positive. We really appreciate you sharing and I know others here will be inspired. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 months ago

    I know I always try, and sometimes succeed. Heck I am sometimes do not tray at all succeed.

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 months ago

    Great article! I am so tired of being accused of being distracted by my pain alone. You bet chronic pain is distracting but so is physical and emotional fatigue. Having to manage this disease for any length of time makes even the most saint-like sufferers prone to throwing up their hands in disgust. I am often reminded of the saying “Stop the Merry-Go Round I want to Get Off!”

    It is knowing that we never will be able to unless a cure is found, that meds don’t cure they only stall for time, that chronic means unrelenting, that we’re stuck with these breaking apart bodies, that we can’t escape.

    So, as you I search for ways to distance myself from these truths. I read, I watch Three Stooges shorts, listen to relaxing music, stretch and walk when I am able, visit this site to read and learn and commiserate with the only folks who really understand. And I pray.

    My faith is my lifeline for I know that one day I will leave this broken down “tent” behind. My new body will be incorruptible, a heavenly body. Until then I as countless others stay hopeful, count my blessings and try not to lose hope.

  • ruiznjatx
    3 months ago

    Amen!

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 months ago

    Hugs!

  • betharooski
    3 months ago

    Hi! I was so glad to hear your witness and thoughts. If we don’t keep reaching out and looking up we will die in the quicksand of chronic … anything you want to call it. I was told that chemotherapy could be awful but doable. Since I have had cancer and ra, I would say yes to both things. Please get some help if your desire to “want to keep thriving” has fallen into the pits. We can be helped out of the quicksand if we reach out and ask for help. A person deserves to find a strong place to exist. Try to deflect away negative, judgmental, and idiotic comments from others. Everyone’s story is different even if they have a similar diagnosis or situation. Hugs!

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 months ago

    Gentle hugs to you. What you say is so true. The challenges of chronic illness are many. Sufferers cannot go it alone. Even one person to listen, empathize and assist can make all the difference to your quality of life. That one person negates all the naysayers. I once was angry at those ppl, now I merely pity them for living life with blinders on and for possesing such inhumane preconceived prejudices against fellow human beings. For me, God +1 is a majority.

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