So there I was, showered, dressed, medicated and had taken any shoulds out of my day, planning only to rest. My next step was to tell someone how awful I felt and since my partner was right there on the couch, he was selected as the audience. A burden shared is a burden halved, the saying goes and in my experience, it's very true. Just the act of telling someone how crappy you feel can make a really bad day easier to bear. They may not be able to do anything to help you other than offering a gentle hug or gentle words, but they know and you are now no longer carrying it alone. Hopefully your family and friends are able to support you when needed, but sometimes, it's not quite enough. Talking to someone who knows exactly how you feel can normalize your experience and maybe even offer tips on how to get through it. This connection to others who also have RA is the thinking behind community sites such as RAHealthCentral and many other groups, e.g., on Facebook. Together, we help each other get through.
On days where I wake up to the kind of pain that takes my breath away, it can be hard to remember that I have been here before. When the pain is blinding, remembering the path out of it can take a while. But every time I have been snapped back into this place of pain and found my way out again, the memory of how I did it gets a little stronger.
Time gives you this gift. Time helps you build resilience Every time it becomes a little easier to remember that this is just pain and that you know how to deal with it. When you cry in the shower, it becomes less about hopelessness and more about releasing the feeling of hurt so you can click into the routine that gets you out on the other side. And then you remember that pain does not define you, that you have some element of control over it and in a strange way, the pain becomes almost empowering.
These are my five essentials when coping with pain. What are yours?
Lene is the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View.