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Not Guilty

Sometimes I feel guilty about having rheumatoid disease.

Feeling guilty for having RA

Then I kick myself. “Why are you feeling guilty about this? You didn’t do anything to get RD. You didn’t commit a bunch of terrible “sins” or live a selfish, bad life before the disease started. You weren’t an awful child. You’ve always tried your best to be a good, kind, caring, loving human being! And you’re doing everything you can to treat the disease—medications, lifestyle modifications, etc. You eat your vegetables! Whole-grain everything! Chicken and fish instead of steak! So stop feeling guilty about something you can’t help!

Feeling guilty for feeling guilty

Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty.

RD symptoms simply get in the way. They slow us down. They can cloud over even the sunniest of moods and switch a glass-half-full attitude toward life to a glass-half-empty one in a flash. They keep us from doing the things we like to do—and from the things we need to do, like take care of our families the way we feel we should.

And while most of us do everything we can to just keep on keeping on, sometimes having RD seems like too big a burden. Sometimes we sigh heavily. Sometimes we let a small groan slip through. Once in a while, we allow ourselves to complain a little bit, maybe even out loud.

Does one really “lose” when fighting RA?

And we’re embarrassed. We feel guilty. Because, you know, we’re supposed to be “warriors.” We’re supposed to be “fighting” this disease, darn it! We’re supposed to be “winning!” You never heard Hercules complain, did you? Sheesh, he was forced to clean the Augean stables in a single night (a Herculean task, heheh). And hey, look at Job! When his god dumped an entire land-fill of pain and misery on poor old Job, he didn’t whine once. He didn’t mutter and gripe. He just got up, smiled (grimly, I hope!) and pushed on.

So what’s wrong with you? Where’s your warrior spirit?

I know, it’s silly. But I also know I’m not alone in my guilt. Rheumatoid disease has a profound effect on daily life. Its symptoms—varying levels of pain that often cause disability, soul-dampening fatigue, feeling generally sick—color everything we do from the moment we wake up in the morning (assuming, of course, that we actually slept) to the time we tuck in at night.

Absolving yourself of the guilt because we do all we can while living with RA

And in spite of that, we take care of ourselves and our families. We work—either in the home, or out of it—even when we’re feeling bad. We hate taking time off work or not getting things done. We shop for groceries, make the kids’ lunches, get the laundry done. We cook meals, walk the dog, clean out the cat’s litter box. And we spend a huge amount of time just dealing with the disease itself. We go to seemingly endless medical appointments, pick up meds at the pharmacy, fill weekly pill boxes, and take the meds themselves. Some of us give ourselves injections! And let’s not forget dealing with insurance: coverage, the routine screw-ups, and astronomical bills. Is there any level of Hades that resembles trying to hold your own on an insurance company telephone tree?

So when the moment comes when you just can’t get up off the couch or you need some help buttoning that shirt, please don’t feel guilty for asking family or friends for it. You do so much every day for so many other people. You deserve help just as much as they do—and actually, you deserve and need it even more. You’re amazing. You’re tough. And there’s no shame in needing a hand now and then.

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.


  • rockcandi
    2 years ago

    I just love this post! I really like how you write with comedy but all the while saying things that matter. I very OFTEN feel guilty. I want to be a great wife, putting all of my husbands needs before mine. I want to be an amazing Mama, throwing my son into the air, chasing him endlessly around the house like he loves to do, and still be able to clean the house, do the dishes, make breakfast lunch and supper and clean up afterwards. And I feel SO guilty when I’m only able to do two or three of those things. (I never throw my son in the air though bc I’d drop him:) I can only put my husbands needs before my own one to three times a day on bad days, not even once on really bad days. It doesn’t help my “bad mom” complex when my husband constantly talks about what I “should” be doing with our 2 yo son: he needs to eat fried eggs in the mornings, you need to stop him from dragging all of his toys out, make sure you’re cleaning his hands and face good and his tray with soap and water not just his wipes after he eats, etc. I can’t always crack and then flip eggs. It’s easier AND ok if he plays with all his toys at the same time and then helps me pick them all up later. I’m rarely able to help our son at the sink especially bc it’s always a battle to get him to stop trying to play in the water then get down from his stool or able hold his tray at the sink to clean it, it’s much more suitable for me to clean his face, hands, & tray with wipes. Reading your post is going to help me to remember not to feel guilty. I’m going to read/show it to my husband too. He is really good about taking things to heart when other people are saying them too and it’s not just coming from me. He’s a big help to me too, he will do all those things for/with our son after I point out that it’s easy for him to ask/tell me to do things when he’s not the one doing them. But it usually gets back around to him being critical of me and still not doing it himself after a few days. Anyway, thanks again for your post! Made me feel a lot better!

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, rockcandi!
    I’m so glad that I made you smile and gave you a good reason to go easy on yourself. I remember having a toddler. It was exhausting–and I didn’t even have RD at the time! I can only imagine the challenge you’re facing as you care for and play with your little boy even as you cope with pain, stiffness, and fatigue. From what you wrote, it sounds to me like you’re doing a great job, thinking ahead, and doing all you can to get as much possible done in spite of it all.
    I have nothing but admiration for moms with RD. Yep, you’re a warrior, all right!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment in such detail. Here’s wishing you a terrific Easter holiday, full of joy and laughter. 😀

  • rockcandi
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for your kind caring words! What an encouragement!!!

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