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Worried looking person with their figure on the corner of their mouth in a splotchy, messy, multicolored ring of paint around them

What Will I Become?

As I approach one year mark since my RA diagnosis, I can’t help but reflect on all the changes that I have made. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, the changes have been both big and small. I can honestly say that I am the happiest I’ve been in a very long time, with stress at a minimum. There is that part of me that worries about what the future holds with this disease.

I naturally worry a lot

I am a serious worrier by nature, an inherited trait. (Thanks mom and dad!) I worry about what I can control, but even more so what I can’t. Try as I may, I know RA can’t be fully controlled. Medication, diet, stress relief, etc can help… but we all know a flare can come when we least expect it. Cue my anxiety…

I’ve always been concerned about my health

Even before my diagnosis, I constantly worried about my health and mortality. With every pain, I would fear that something was wrong. Chest pain = heart attack, headache = aneurysm; my anxiety was overwhelming! Knowing these things are unlikely, but I’d still worry. I was a healthy, active “30 something.” Now, I’m a 38-year-old with rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t want to stress about it anymore. When I feel pain, I try and tell myself it’s nothing. Hoping it’s not the beginning of a dreaded flare or the disease progressing.

I worry about RA progression

I worry that 10 or more years from now, I won’t be able to do the things I love to do now. The things that make me who I am. Every time I go for a run, I think to myself, “Is the pounding doing irreparable damage to my knees and feet? Am I going to severely regret this later?” When my hands feel stiff and my knuckles are swollen, I wonder, “How long can I continue in my profession?” “What will I do if I can’t continue in my field?” “If I can’t work, what will I do?” These are questions that I truly scare me because … well, do I really want to know??

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. Not knowing can be even worse than knowing. None of us know what tomorrow may bring. Rheumatoid arthritis is different for each of us affected and, for a worrier like me, not knowing can be a very hard pill to swallow. Swallowing my actual pills is the easiest part of this illness!

How do I balance living with worrying?

What is the right answer? Do I worry about living my long term best life or do I live my best life while I can? Who knows? I’ve never been good at finding a happy medium: I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Just in this past year, though, I have learned that I am capable of growth and change. I’ve found strength within myself I didn’t know I had.

With that being said, finding that happy medium should be an easy step towards a very healthy and happy future. For now, I’ll take each day as they come. The good, bad, and everything in between.

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.

Comments

  • Grand-moogi
    4 months ago

    I was first diagnosed fifty years ago at the age of 22 when the treatment was two aspirin every four hours. It would go into remmission for years then come back. I gave myself a stomache ulcer because of the aspirin as I used to diet all the time and never ate enough. It came back just over 20 years ago and has not gone into remmission. All in all I have very little deformity and although I cannot walk too well, mostly my life is OK. I have good doctors and they are on top of the pain control. I am on lots of meds includin f biologics and narcotics and I will probably never get off them but so what? I can do most of the things I like, knitting, crochet, sewing, machine embroidery, reading, charity work and even gardening. When it plays up I curl up with a hot water bottle and a good book. I think the worst part of pain is fear. Don’t be afraid of it. It will pass. It is an excuse to rest up.

  • Sandy60
    5 months ago

    This is such an open and honest article. I felt like I was reading about myself.
    I am on meds, changed my diet, and always on the lookout for new and better natural ways to deal with RA, cause I now worry about the long term effects of the meds on my health.

    Thanks for the article and keep the wonderful positive attitude.. it helps!

    Also having people who are compassionate and supportive around is very important.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi leo65. First, let me say that it is completely understandable to be anxious about what RA can bring, particularly as a new patient. People here understand. In fact, this article compiled thought from the community on the anxiety associated with loss and progression, along with managing it ans support: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/anxiety-loss-progression/. In addition, in this article our contributor Angela writes about being a “self-diagnosed-hypocondriac” and learning to deal with anxiety: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/anxiety/. Know that you are always welcome here for information and support. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Doreen0302
    5 months ago

    Your post really resonated – I’m 10 years in now, and things have changed. Seems you have a great attitude and that is SO important! Personally, a worrier AND a control freak, learning to let go is still a struggle. I wanted to say that stress is a big trigger. Yoga has helped me a lot. Be present, let things go, and just breathe… take care!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    5 months ago

    It is difficult to not worry about RA progression. But here is advice form a 20 year survivor.

    1. The RA you are worrying about is not the RA of today. You are worrying about the RA of yesteryear. At least if you are to worry about the RA of today. Read the medication side effect paper, that will give you plenty be concerned about. But then also read the incidents of occurrence. You must read about the number of occurrences every time you read about the complications.

    2. Worry about reproductive health. It is almost never an issue and there is little to worry about, but you must reach out to the experts in the field (other women who have had successful pregnancies)

    3. Worry about expressing yourself. You do a wonderful job and this is one you can absolutely take care of when you worry.

    🙂

    I do not mean to minimize your concerns but my suggestion is to do things, be active, laugh a lot and enjoy life.

    That is way more important than worrying.

    rick – moderator

  • leo65
    5 months ago

    Thanks so much for your excellent article.
    I was just diagnosed with RA and find myself struggling with anxiety as you mentioned.
    Any ideas as how I can stop my mind from “running away”?

  • Richard Faust moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi leo65. First, let me say that it is completely understandable to be anxious about what RA can bring, particularly as a new patient. People here understand. In fact, this article compiled thought from the community on the anxiety associated with loss and progression, along with managing it ans support: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/anxiety-loss-progression/. In addition, in this article our contributor Angela writes about being a “self-diagnosed-hypocondriac” and learning to deal with anxiety: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/anxiety/. Know that you are always welcome here for information and support. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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