Has your condition impacted your mental well-being in any way?
Coping with a chronic condition like arthritis can have an impact on a person’s mental health. If you’re comfortable speaking about it, has your condition impacted your mental well-being in any way? If so, what strategies have helped you deal with these challenges?
I think more so at the beginning, it definitely impacted me. Because I was so terrified. Because I looked things up and I Googled things….I just went to worst-case scenario, which I definitely tend to do. I have pretty bad anxiety and it really got worse after my friend died. And then with this diagnosis I thought, “My friend died, I have RA – like, who gets this? Who deals with this? Why am I?”
I feel like at the beginning it was pretty rough. And you know, now that I’ve kind of gotten into a groove and the swing of things it’s been good, but the thing that’s actually crept up lately is just the conversation of kids. It kind of brings back some severe stress. Mentally, I’m like, “do I want to do this?” I don’t know. I’m so petrified to come off of these meds. And what if I flare up? And what if I can’t hold my kid? I just go all over the place. So I find that is definitely, mentally, really tough. And there’s not much I can do, so again, I just try to meditate and work out to de-stress. But it has definitely impacted my mental health.
How it impacted me mentally and physically is within my relationship. It has affected the way I view myself in relationships, if that makes sense. In my eyes, I sometimes feel that all people tend to see of me is the physical attributes (just the arthritis and the scleroderma), so I don’t necessarily see myself in the best light when I look at my reflection. And that has impacted my self-image. I have a very supportive partner who would say, “You know, just be quiet, you are beautiful,” and stuff like that. I’ve noticed, especially with scleroderma, the way it has changed my facial structure. It has made everything basically tight because of the excess collagen buildup. My hands don’t function ‘normally’ I suppose, and I have trouble with pretty much everything because the tight skin is all over my body. So I always feel like I can’t fulfill my partner in certain ways like a ‘normal’ woman should be able to fulfill their partner. But that’s more just on the mental side because that’s how I view myself rather than how he views me, if that makes sense. So that is one way it has impacted me tremendously. And it’s going to be a struggle, continuously, to overcome that little barrier.
The Arthritis Society’s Mental Health web resources can help you look after your mental well-being while you take care of your physical well-being.