Hope is not a word in my vocabulary. It never has been. The way I see it, it’s difficult to have hope. When you have hope, and then things don’t go the way you thought, it makes you upset. But if you were expecting the worst all along, then you can’t possibly be caught off guard.
The dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. I don’t believe I was born without hope. My worldview was shaped differently. I’ve been living with a chronic illness since I was born. Rheumatoid Arthritis. So you see, hope was difficult for me to grasp. I see things in black and white, there are no shades of gray. I’m either having a flare-up, or waiting in the phase of remission, for another flare to strike. I’ve just recently realized the scope of how RA has directly shaped the person I am. RA has not only taken over my body, but ‘who I am’ is changed because of it. I am somewhat of a control-freak, because obviously I cannot control my RA, so I try to control other things, and the people around me. I’ve actually developed an eating disorder, that I now believe could have stemmed from my RA. I’ve always been told to keep my weight down. I’ve never felt perfect, or normal. I can’t control my RA, but I can control what goes in and out of my mouth, AKA anorexia. I regret that every day, because as bad as my RA is, anorexia is something quite worse. The two combined make me insane on a regular basis. To make matters worse, both illness feed off of each other. I’m wary to try and recover from my eating problems, because of the RA, I am on steroids, so I’m scared to eat, I know I’ll gain. But slowly, I’m learning to eat better. I’m also investigating the fact that a low-calorie diet may be good for people with RA. On the days where I stay between 700-1000 calories, my symptoms improve. When I have considerably more, my symptoms get worse.
Because of the constant, “I’m never going to be good enough” voice in my head, my confidence has taken quite a hit. I don’t have as many friends as someone my age should. Friends want to do things, and go out, and I don’t want to let anyone down. Its so hard, because people take this the wrong way, they think I’m lazy and boring. People don’t understand the effects of RA. I’m tired, my body is acting as if I have an infection 24/7. Think of how you feel when you have a sinus infection, tired right? That never goes away for me. My immune system is working overtime to destroy the cartilage in my joints, mistaking it as harmful. My joints ache, my body hurts, I have a constant low-grade fever. It’s like being sick and never getting better. The worst part is knowing that there is no cure. The problem lies within the very DNA that I was made from. There is no killing it, without killing you.