Not having anyone around on a day-to-day basis had its drawbacks emotionally as well. Not only was there no one around to help pitch in with tasks, but there was also no one around for company. Of course I had great friends and a wonderful family who did as much as they could, but they lived far away and my friends had their own lives to tend to. While their help and support meant a lot to me, I came to realize that at the end of the day, no one else could have rheumatoid arthritis for me. I was on my own in a way I hadn’t imagined I’d ever be, and I was going to have to learn what that meant.
Slowly, and by necessity, I began to adapt, after all, there was still an up side to living on my own, even with an illness. I didn’t feel self-conscious about spending twelve hours –or more- in bed on the days when I was severely fatigued. I didn’t have to share the couch with anyone or feel that I was in anyone’s way. I didn’t have to worry about taking care of any one else’s needs. I had the rare gift of true privacy in a city crammed full of people, a refuge where I could nurse and replenish myself.
Living on my own while dealing with a life-changing diagnosis shaped how I thought about my disease and myself, and even though it had its disadvantages, it helped make me stronger. It forced me to be a little inventive and to pick myself up emotionally. It also taught me what it really means to be independent; when it really matters, I can rely on myself.
Sara is the author of the blog The Single Gal's Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis.