You don’t know what you got until it’s gone – a saying I now take to heart. I feel lucky that I was diagnosed with RA later in life (right before my 28th birthday). I had an active childhood, attended overnight camp for two months for eight summers, studied abroad in Barcelona - these are a few experiences I am forever grateful for. I feel truly blessed for the experiences when I felt my best.

As my 30th birthday is approaching I am dealing with acceptance. Accepting my illness is not easy and it might take me a lifetime. I’m struggling mostly with balance. Did I do too much? Am I listening to my body? I had the flu for two weeks - did I run myself down? Canceling plans and saying “no” to friends and obligations is never fun or easy. This is my new reality. I have to be selfish and listen to how I feel because if I don't, it takes a toll.

How do you accept something that you didn’t welcome or choose? I know I’m making strides as I went from not being able to walk to mostly being pain free. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all the positives when I feel defeated by my illness.

Through meditation and listening to my body I know eventually I will get to a place where I feel more confident and am better able to manage my illness. Patience is the hardest challenge throughout all of this.

I had a round of tests at my internist last week and everything went very well. They found out that my iron level is on the low end of the spectrum and I’m praying this is why I’m so chronically fatigued. All I can do is do my best daily to manage my RA and make it a priority to take care of myself. In the meantime, I need to continue to love myself with RA and all the health complications that arise.

asbRA was diagnosed with RA in November 2012 at the age of 27 and fibromyalgia in 2013. Through therapy and MBSR meditation asbRA found her calling in journaling her experience and is writing a book on how to navigate an RA diagnosis in the prime of one’s life. As a strong advocate in the autoimmune community asbRA shares her wisdom in hopes of helping others. @AllisonSBerger

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