a person thinking about their energy levels, and working on an agenda

New Year, Same RA

Last updated: February 2023

It's the start of a new year, and with that comes the same stuff we usually hear around this time about how someone is going to change their life, their viewpoints, and the world around them.

It's not that this is an inherently bad mindset — in fact, it can produce quite productive results — but what I find is that it's not always generative or feasible for me as someone who has RA.

In a general sea of uncertainty and fear, RA is the 1 constant that punctuates my life. I find it fascinating that there is so much emphasis on change without an understanding of the implications of such changes; that’s why, in this article, I want to share some of my thoughts about how the new year configures and reconfigures my own relationship with RA.

The new year will not change every facet of you

You might not realize how pervasive RA is until you start unfolding how exactly it permeates every facet of your existence. The way I walk has changed; the way I feel has changed; the things that I can do, and the ability to do those things, have changed; my body itself has changed; and if you don’t have RA, it’s likely difficult to realize that — or, in actuality, understand it repletely. That’s why, when I hear people say that the new year will change every facet of their existence, I cringe a little because, in my experience, that’s not even a feasible wish or desire — it will not happen.

Existing in survival mode

Maybe another part of my frustration is an aspect of jealousy: I feel that I don’t even have the energy to think about change. RA continues to drain me, and my sense is that I am existing only in survival mode right now.

What does that mean? My only mode of existing right now is making it to the next day and having enough energy to do my job, make money, and have some social life. And sometimes that is even too much to ask.

Challenging myself to make some changes

However, I do think that I could shift my perspective about my energy levels. Yes, there is no denying that my energy levels will likely be lower than before RA. But I could envision it as a challenge to further plan and prioritize my time and the things I need to do.

I have made some progress toward that — I have an extensive Google Calendar and other productivity tools that help me organize and collate my work and school (including Craft, which helps me collate and write my schoolwork and RA articles). These are good implementations, but I know that I have more to accomplish and work towards.

RA can't be changed, but other things can

I recognize this might sound inherently negative, and that is not my intention.

What I’m trying to get at here is an awareness of the fact that RA has profoundly changed my life, and no amount of hopeful wishing and thinking can change that. But how I mentally feel can change.

In addition, what can change, though, is my relationship with my body and how I understand its functioning. But I don’t need the year changing to accomplish this goal; I can do it right now.

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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 RheumatoidArthritis.net 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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