I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. There are so many people with RA who ask me, "How can you possibly be truly happy with this disease?" I have been pondering this question that seems to pop up again and again in my conversations with those who suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I think I finally have an answer. It is one simple word... BALANCE. As we all go through life, it is important to make sure that we are in balance with all the different needs we have as people. We go through different cycles in life where we may focus all of our attention on one aspect of our lives. We tend to throw all of our eggs in one basket. Whether we are mothers and we are giving all of our time and energy to our children, or we have a project at work that demands complete commitment. If we focus too much on one thing in our lives... We tend to become unhappy. The same applies to those of us who suffer with RA. While thinking about BALANCE one day I began to doodle on a sheet of paper in my journal, and came up with my personal " Cycles of RA". I'm hoping this can help some of you out there. Your cycles may be different, but I think that it is much easier if you can map them out. That way you can pay attention to where you are physically and emotionally with RA. It also is helpful to come up with your own cycle map and show it to your family so they can get some sense of where you are coming from.
So mine is pictured above. As you can see I have a Physical and Emotional Cycle I tend to repeat over and over. I always start out pretty Content and in a place where I am accepting that I have RA, and I am dealing with it okay. Then an "Opportunity" comes up. An opportunity can be anything for me since I am pretty much in bed all day everyday. For me it is an invitation to meet for lunch, a birthday party, or going out with my family anywhere. At that point I have to decide whether I am going to say,"Yes."and feed my physical self, get some exercise, go outside and feel the sun on my face... Or if I am going to say,"No." And suffer emotionally, be sad, but get extra rest and spare my self days of endless pain and exhaustion. The trick is to BALANCE the two cycles. If I say yes to too many things, and use up all of my energy....then I get myself in a really bad place physically. Yet if I say no too many times, I end up depressed and sad. So really if you can say to yourself, " Hey I can't miss this Baptism it's too important." Then you have to be willing to go through the other steps in your cycle. There will be some serious pain coming your way, but it might be worth the pain price. There are times as well when you will have to say no to people. You just have to sometimes.. It's a reality, just don't catch yourself saying no too much either. Does this make sense? Everyone has an adjustment period when you are diagnosed with this disease. It Is REALLY very hard to adjust and accept that your lifestyle has to be different. The sooner you can find Your "RA Cycles" the better. Then you can keep track of where you're at, and make lemonade out of lemons! Good luck guys!