It’s RA Blog Week! Today’s prompt is: Mental Health – How do you manage to maintain your mental health while dealing with autoimmune disease? Discuss how dealing with RA every day makes you emotional. Do you hide your emotions?
I’ve talked a lot about how my mental health is impacted by being chronically ill. It’s a process that we all go through as patients.
It’s one of the most difficult struggles we face.
My biggest struggle with mental health is completely linked with my physical health. I wind up pushing through and not asking for help I need. Obviously, part of that is being an abuse survivor, but a lot of it is because I’m incredibly independent (read: stubborn). I’ve always wanted to take care of things on my own because that was my childhood. When I cannot do things on my own, I usually just struggle through as best as I can or forgo whatever activity.
I get angry and shut down emotionally instead of communicating my frustrations. I know that sometimes, it’s because sharing how angry I am with my body will lead to crying – something I absolutely hate to do… mostly because of how I was raised.
Crying was showing weakness. It meant I wasn’t being strong or resilient or persevering. I know now that this is bullshit, but it’s a hard thing to change.
The unpredictability of living with chronic illnesses is detrimental to my mental health as well. I can’t plan effectively when I don’t know how my body will react.
I was just in New York for a trip. I had tons of fun and spent time with some of my favorite rheummates. Even though I’ve started to buffer my trips to give myself time to recover, that doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes I only need a day and other times I need a week – and there’s no real way to predict that, even when I get home.
It’s hard to know if I will be up for appointments like physical therapy, let alone to clean the guinea pigs’ house.
That’s really hard, especially being a planner.
It’s taken me nearly thirty years, but I’m starting to learn how to communicate my pain more effectively and ask for help. I’m sure it’ll be a continuous process until the day I die. Hell, what person is good at this without illness?
Make sure to join me in opposing the Cassidy-Graham plan this week. Click here to learn more.