Finding Purpose and Happiness In Your RA World

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • Living with RA is a challenge. That's putting it mildly, right? How do we find purpose in our unpredictable RA world? How do we find happiness, and adjust to our “new normal?”


    You all know that I recently retired because of health issues. That was about a month ago. During this time, I have been thinking very much about what direction my life will be taking.


    I found HealthCentral two and a half years ago, when I was undiagnosed. I was scared and confused. Lene, and others, helped me sort through all of the confusion and encouraged me to push for a diagnosis. I would have felt so alone without this community. It was at that time, I decided it was important to help others living with RA.

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    I know we don't like to talk too much about suffering. It isn't something we should dwell on. But the truth is, we do suffer. We suffer from the physical pain, the fatigue, and the emotional pain that comes from having an invisible disease that others cannot detect or understand.


    Since my diagnosis, I have done what I could to spread the truth about RA. I have written articles for HC, and spoken to groups of acquaintances at various social events, explaining that RA is an autoimmune disease that is systemic, and is not the same as OA.


    The strange part is that I have also enlightened general practitioners and physical therapists about the pain and disability caused by uncontrolled RA. There is still a lot of ignorance about RA out there in the medical community. Many people only know one thing: Medications For RA Are Expensive.


    Now that I am not working, I want to step up this goal for my life. I need to get my RA better controlled before I can do this, and I'm not exactly sure where I will go with this idea. I am thinking I will become an advocate and do as much as my health will allow.


    The point is this: I have a purpose, a passion in my life. It is a purpose that is close to my heart and it doesn't feel like “work”. If you can find a purpose close to your heart that you can pursue as your health allows, you will be on the track to happiness.


    I have another goal, or purpose, in my life. I started writing devotions this summer. I'm not sure why or how it happened, but I found myself being so appreciative for the good things in life, that I just had to write them down.


    I shared some of these devotions with friends, and they have encouraged me to write a book of devotions. I haven't started it yet, but I do intend to continue this practice. It helps me focus on my core beliefs. It helps me identify the blessings in my life.


    If you can find some focus in your life that is a positive influence on you and others, you need to purse that focus. It will be good for you. It will be good for others. We all know how much it helps us to help other people.


    When we are doing something we enjoy, we tend to find happiness and contentment in our lives. I am not saying it is always easy. It isn't easy, but it is important.


    Sometimes the whirlwind of changes we must face because of our RA can be overwhelming. I have found that when I feel as though things are getting out of control, I must slow down, take one day or issue at a time, and focus on my priorities.


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    This is part of learning to adjust to our “new normal.” I am not particularly fond of that term, but it does convey the meaning of what we are talking about here. Perhaps we should borrow the term “My RA today”. I say that because we have good days and bad days. Things are never “normal” for us in the conventional sense of the word.


    Ra makes our lives unpredictable. Maybe we should just view it as a continuous adventure.

    When we learn to accept the unpredictability of our days with RA, we are well on our way to adjusting to the reality of our lives.


    We only have so many spoons to spend each day on activities, and that means we must set priorities. We need to know ourselves. We need to listen to our bodies. We need to actively pursue our dreams. RA is part of our lives, but it does not change who we are inside.


    As I was typing, I just happened to glance down at my swollen hands and feet. They are a visual reminder of how important it is to stay on top of our RA. Keep your doctor's appointments. Be open to new medications. If you can get some control over your RA, you will have more spoons to spend on your dreams.


    We are all so much more than our RA. We have a lot to contribute to this world. Whatever path to happiness you choose, try to stay focused on things that you love. Those things will give you purpose, bring you happiness, and help you adjust to your RA today.

Published On: October 22, 2012