Working Through the Night When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lately, I’ve had a few work and personal deadlines that I’ve had to meet, some that required working into the night — much later than I usually stay awake. The first few times that I was staying up late, I was not a fan because it felt like too much work and was frustrating.

But then, I realized that these were the first few times since being diagnosed that I’ve been able to stay up late to work. Thinking about it in this way makes me think about how working late like this can be a barometer for how my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is doing.

But, is that necessarily true? Is it beneficial to work late?

Staying up late will impact my RA

Answering this question is difficult. On the one hand, I know that it is beneficial to work so I can meet my deadlines.

The problem is that staying up that late can impact my sleep and how I feel - meaning that I can only stay up late a few nights and still feel well. If I do too many nights like that, my RA gets worse, I get too sleepy, and I just start feeling like I don’t want to do anything, which then makes meeting deadlines more difficult (see the cycle?)

Everything is a tradeoff

Central to this article is the intersection between productivity and feeling okay and how I prioritize each. Everything is a tradeoff, particularly when you have a chronic illness, and that’s something I never realized would become that important in my life.

I constantly feel limited

I’m tired of having to make tradeoffs. I want to be able to work for a long time and not feel sick the next day. I want to be able to accomplish everything that I want to accomplish, but I constantly feel limited.

It helps to feel validated

I know that I am privileged in my position when it comes to having a chronic illness because I am able to treat my disease because I do have health insurance. Because I have the opportunity to write about the struggles I have with rheumatoid arthritis. I try to take this perspective into my thinking about my disease and in writing my articles.

I want to write these articles not to complain, but to help other community members feel validated. I know that I am not the only one who faces these tradeoffs in life and that having a chronic illness just makes it that much harder. But, it’s okay. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that all I can do is my best and that that is okay.

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