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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anxiety and RA

     I have come to believe that everyone will at some point have to deal with anxiety.  When coupled with RA or other chronic diseases that are almost daily testing our ability to cope, it really does deliver a "double punch" that really is miserable!  
Lately I have been asking myself what in the world is happening to me that I cannot seem to "settle down"?  I have been experiencing relentless nausea and arm weakness for some time (a couple of months off and on) and naturally attributed it to my RA and/or the medications I take.  That said there is always this sense of doom when the symptoms start and I have to really fight to stay in control so I don't have a full blown panic attack over this feeling of impending death or a major health crisis!
     So, I wonder if what is going on is really anxiety disorder or does the fact that RA is so unpredictable and has so many secondary disorders associated with it account for the feelings.  Make no mistake, the symptoms are VERY real and so it seems no amount of positive self-talk, deep breathing, etc. relieves it in the moment.  So, now I wonder, am I a hypochondriac?  Has RA given me yet another "gift"? 
     Being the A type person that I am, I feel the need to reflect on this and derive some answers that may eventually lead to improvement.  I have had a lot of change lately - trips, anticipated trips, new medications, etc. and I tend to stress when the scales tip to far in the change direction!  As much as I think I can juggle 100 things (and I can!) I still find myself burying my anxiety and plunging ahead.
     And so just like Anxiety Girl, something that may seem meaningless to someone else becomes a major issue for me and I can indeed "Jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound".   I am trying to manage this by taking a closer look at what is happening around me when these thoughts are strongest and see if I can develop some strategies to relieve the pressure and anxiety.
     I want to embrace the ups and downs of life not just tolerate them and that is the challenge for so many of us with RA.  We already face so many unknowns that it does not take much more than a gentle nudge to bring on anxiety.   
     I do believe that grabbing on with gusto to some message(s) that resonate and repeating them to yourself is helpful because you truly do begin to assimilate the thought behind it.  So finding one that makes you read it twice is a good sign.  For those of us coping with difficulties I like the one works for me.  I am an optimist even at my most sad or anxious and so I will remember and repeat that although life may not always be fair it is good!
     My youngest son has been home with us for about 10 days and it has been so wonderful to have him here on a daily basis...we shop, we laugh, we eat together as a family again and it is so delightful that when he leaves in a day or two that "change" will be tough to handle.  That said would I ever give up any of the time we are now sharing?  Not for a minute! 
Luckily I will see him and my other two sons in just a few weeks as we will all be attending a college football game together.  The fact they live so far away (but at least all together in the same place) is really hard for my husband and me but we look forward to a time when we all live closer together.  My husband and I believe family is what life is all about, what happiness is made up of and so we relish the times we spend with our sons. I am working hard to stay healthy so that I can continue to enjoy them as the years pass.


Thrive With RA said...

Hi Nan,

I can totally appreciate your comments on anxiety. I have learned recently that anxiety can be a physical manifestation and/or symptom from chronic illness, and not necessarily the more well-known, stigmatized, mental condition. Your concluding image about wanting to be happy in life was priceless! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nan,
your blog was so inspiring and gives hope to us all with RA and all the anxiety and struggles we go through daily...thanks for being you..Ann

Thrive With RA said...

Hi Nan,

I read on MSN that Vermont was particularly hard-hit by the hurricane/flooding aftermath. Are you ok?

Carla said...

Love the post and can relate on so many levels. Thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post.
(Wishing you and yours safety in the Irene aftermath.)

Melinda Winner said...

Really great blog. I enjoyed reading your story