Not So Bad After All

Perhaps it’s the change to colder weather, but I have not been feeling well. My joints are generally achier and I’m experiencing more stiffness. I think increased exhaustion also brings down my mood and makes me feel worse.

So why am I telling you this? To share my thoughts about looking at the bright side and being reminded that we’re better off than we may feel.

Tonight I watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special and was reminded how he struggles with his mood during the holidays. When he finds a little, pathetic-looking tree I so sympathize with the crooked branches. Is this tree me? I feel weak and unimpressive.

Yet when the children give it a little love, the tree is revealed to be strong and beautiful. Sure, it is a fantastical transformation, but I like the message.

While I don’t feel great and am crooked from RA, I’m not so bad after all.

There’s some attributes I have as a person living with RA that I need to remind myself about:

  • I’m stronger than I realize. This is something I regularly forget, yet I wouldn’t have made it to age 38 without hanging in there! With 36 years and counting as a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve managed to live with limitations and pain. I’m a tough cookie.
  • I’m adaptable. Living with RA means adapting to a difficult situation. Over the years I have adjusted to changes in my health and condition with medications, tools, and techniques to manage various challenges. If I’ve learned anything, I know that where there’s a will there’s a way.
  • I treasure health and quality of life. One of the positive aspects of living with a chronic illness is that I really value health and well-being. For me, health looks a little different because I don’t fit the norm. But I’m always trying to enjoy my life, spend quality time with my loved ones, and enjoy myself.

So even during a time when I may not be feeling my best, there’s good things to remember and appreciate. I may be a shabby tree in some aspects, but I also have positive aspects that I should not forget. My RA brings many challenges, both emotional and physical, but I can also embrace lessons from the experience.

What can we do to spruce up and find the magic of Charlie Brown’s tree in ourselves? I think we need a moment of self-reflection at this time of year, to remember what we accomplished in the year and during our time living with RA. We can be proud survivors.

We can also treat ourselves a little. It can be something small, but a little pat on the back or enjoying some comfort can be good for the body and the soul. A cup of cocoa or piece of chocolate can give me a bit of a smile.

Living with RA can be difficult. It can be exhausting and draining. But we need to remember that we’re not so bad after all. Find your inner Charlie Brown tree and give it the attention and appreciation that it deserves.

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