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What is Weakness

Is weakness a state of mind? A feeling? Is it physical or mental? Can I control it?

The definition of “weakness” is lacking in strength, feeble or slight defect so I don’t like to think about it in an any capacity. I truly believe that anyone with a chronic illness is strong, not lacking in mental acuity and a superhero. I may not feel that way at times but I remind myself my body is going through a lot and it takes a very strong-willed person to live with that.

I am a confident person. I probably even border on cocky. Every so often though, these thoughts of inadequacy shovel their way into my forebrain. I can’t work full-time because I’m weak. I can’t hold a glass of juice because I’m weak. I can’t rock-climb anymore so I listen to people think I’m weak.

What we can change…

I remind myself that I can’t control my pain or fatigue. I can’t control my tendons and ligaments releasing so they avoid injury.

Or, can I? I always believed if I thought hard enough I could exhibit pure mind over matter and dominate my body. I feel myself losing my grip around the dog bowl but if I concentrate “really, really hard” I won’t drop it. But then again, my joints start to scream in pain.

Can’t I just change my diet or exercise more? Am I mentally weak for not being able to push my body to those limits?

I am not as good a climber anymore (level/rating-wise) so am I both mentally and physically weak because I can’t just push back to my former power?

I keep cycling through good days, bad flares and everything in between. Am I fragile because I can’t will my RA symptoms into remission?

Am I weak because I no longer have the confidence in my physical capacity? Am I weak because my first thought in the morning is what am I capable of today?

Why do I have RA?

I often ask myself the golden question “Why do I have RA??” I come up with all sorts of theories and occasionally (read: rarely) I ask “Do I have RA because I am feeble? This thought is rare because my mind doesn’t usually go there but it does make an appearance at times.

Every so often I’m pelted with these insecurities. I know how people look at me. I’m sure they’ve wondered why my “condition” (just saying from their point of view) changes from day to day. And usually, I don’t care. Autoimmune are difficult to see and only a rare few try to really understand for me. I don’t let the majority bother me. But, sometimes, it’s hard to ignore myself!

We all have that little voice that tears us down just as we have the little angel who builds us up. So, how do I stop the nasty one from eating away all my confidence?

I recently wrote about being kind to myself but every so often I feel drained, depleted, devoid of strength (oh, alliteration, cool!) but I think this is my Achille’s Heel. We all have one, even Superman, and I personally think it’s best to acknowledge it.

What do you think of weakness? Do you let yourself feel it, do you believe in it? Or have you mastered staying away from it?

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
    1 year ago

    I ask myself all of the same questions. I rarely wonder anymore why I have JRA, although it was a daily occurrence for years, and have switched to asking God why He hasn’t healed me. I know there’s a reason(s) so I often try to figure it out so I can be sure that I’m giving Him glory in all the things I CAN do while living with this disease. I don’t think it’s possible to have RA and master not having physical weakness. And I, most of the time, when I feel sane anyway, know that just bc my body is weak, doesn’t mean that my mind is weak. I think it’s the opposite, like you said, anyone who lives, truly lives (not giving up and spending life in bed) with chronic illness, anyone who is physically weak due to that illness HAS to be mentally strong or they wouldn’t thrive. Thrive in the sense of the word that a person with chronic illness doesn’t just survive, but pushes them self through the weakness and do whatever they are capable at that time. If one isn’t able to push through a certain amount of physical weakness at any given time, it’s not a symbol of how weak they are mentally but how strong the illness is at fighting against the person physically. There’s no shame in admitting ones limits and with our disease those limits can change daily, hourly, or by the minute. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that when I say that a person with RA who spends their life in bed is weak. Sometimes the disease is so strong that there’s no way a person can do anything but be bed-bound. I’m not judging anyone who does things differently than I do. We are all different and every persons RA is different. In reading this post and many of your others, Monica, I would never think of you as a weak person. You seem like a strong, determined, fulfilled person. Don’t allow that voice to ever convince you any different. (I hear that voice all the time too, especially at times like now when I’m flared up and also taking Prednisone- it always does a number on my mind.)

  • 2mra
    1 year ago

    Hey Monica:

    I do like your definition better. I get on with work at home and at mom’s. I’m stubborn, pretending to be strong. Sometimes I do things that I shouldn’t.

    You are young to have this already.

    This weakness symptom started for me about 6 years ago. I was on MTX for many years and had been on Rituxin for about 6 months. The muscle/collagen in my wrists, hands, ankles and
    legs(up to my knees) were diminished.

    I’ve been thinking about this weakness quite a bit lately. Weights and exercise don’t seem to help much nor therapy or protein drinks. Although I did get I did get some strength back in my legs thankfully.

    Or this could be a coincidental, eventual progression of RA. I do not know. I do know that I was very strong before(even with Type 1 Diabetes). I was very proud of that. (Both my hubby and I have ancestors from Europe). Ha! my Mom is skinny as a rake but was strong as a horse(as the saying goes).

    Anyways, thanks for writing about this problem. If you find a solution…let me know. 🙂

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 year ago

    i just woke up form a nap this evening. I missed 40 minutes of TV while I was,, well watching TV. Do I let myself feel weakness, it refuses to let me feel strong some days. Darn it, I need a nap.

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