In fact I would have to say that I have been functioning at about half speed which for me is not always a bad thing but in this case, it has left me feeling very low energy as well and THAT is not a good thing. I am discovering that low energy for whatever reason is very unnerving...
...for one thing it brought it along with it the side effect of not having the motivation to do things that normally give me a nice warm feeling of accomplishment - like putting out my fall/Halloween decorations...didn't happen this year. Why? I am not sure except to say that I had a lot of excuses and in retrospect I think it all came down to simply not feeling up to doing anything that was not necessary to getting through each day. This is not an altogether new situation for me but this time it seems to have hung on a lot longer than in the past...a lot longer...like a gum on a shoe you just can't get off type longer...
leading to a sense of paralysis when it comes to moving beyond this state I found myself in...a state that makes it far more difficult to get the pendulum swinging in the right direction.
But in the last few days I can feel myself slowly emerging from this "slump" and I am feeling relieved, and cautiously optimistic that I am finally heading down a less prickly path than the one I have been traveling on the last several months.
I have begun to think ahead and plan again...something that had taken a back seat in the last several months. I normally like to plan things out but during this "slump" I was just not up to it...in fact I put things off that I would normally have done far in advance. This is just one example of a number of ways that I knew that I was not in a good place and I was not sure how to improve the situation. I found myself being very self critical which has always been a bit of an issue but one I could control and with the help of positive self talk could often overcome. Not this time.
I was literally "beating myself up" at every turn and it was not only making me miserable but I was slipping into a funk that was becoming more and more difficult to climb out of!
The hole was getting deeper and I was getting weaker and less motivated to change my fate. I wish I could pinpoint how and why things began to shift to a more positive outlook but I really am not sure why and when or how or even if it will last which is REALLY what makes me feel unsettled. Not know why things began to turn around is not a problem as long as the outcome is good....but what concerns me is that without having a handle on why I have no reason to think it won't happen again and perhaps with even greater longevity than it had this time...and that is worrisome.
So I have been reflecting on that in the past several weeks and I think there are some reasons why and since I believe there is, as is often the case, at least a partial relationship to RA.
When you have a chronic disease like RA it takes energy beyond anything you can imagine to cope, manage, survive, thrive and simply live a meaningful and satisfying life. Sound dramatic? I used to think so too and so I think I often pushed this aside. I have had RA for over 15 years and yet it still can pack a punch both physically and psychologically that can literally "knock me out".
Yep that's me on the ground, pretty much how the way I was feeling the last few months. I could not find the energy, the will, the strength to get "up off the mat" and keep fighting. Thankfully that has changed but again, why? I have to wonder if this is just another of the charming aspects of RA. We already know that it is very "spontaneous" when it comes to painful physical flares so it is not much of a stretch to think that it can also do the same thing when it comes to energy, mood and the overall sense of well being that is so crucial to our satisfaction with life in general.
I had three surgeries in a fairly short time frame and afterward between the recovery (which took a lot longer than a person with my patience can tolerate, despite it being all good!) my RA began to appear with a "renewed sense of purpose" that included bouts of low grade fever, malaise, fatigue and the ever present joint pain and discomfort that seemed like a sick game of tag as it moved from joint to joint. As always, I took steps to "correct" these issues as much as possible....up the prednisone, rest the joints, try to rest, take it easy, etc. At the time, I assumed that I would be able to "counter the punches" but this time they really did a number on me...weight gain...again...sleeplessness...again ...low self esteem...again...feeling lonley, isolated, unable to enjoy much...again...but this time it hung on...and on...and on...and I began to get worried as I just could not get myself out of the cycle that was spiraling into tears and sadness on almost a daily basis. What to do? Not sure why or when but at some point I simply got up one morning and began to take some small steps to try to see if I could turn the corner to a better place.
I began to think about some simple, small, relatively easy things I could reintroduce that might work...so that day I went back to doing my food journal to see if I could "check in" with my eating habits. I resolved to do this for at least one week and see where I was at. A few days later, after getting my final release from both my foot surgeon and the PT's I started to do the treadmill again...the first time in nearly three years! It felt so good. I talked at length with my Rheumatoligist about the current state of my RA and we came up with some new strategies to get things back under control. And on it went....every couple of days I tried to make a positive change, sometimes very small ones, that helped me to feel more positive and like I was heading in the right direction again. I was finally starting to emerge from this rather dark and lonely place.
I think the mistake I make, and it can so easily happen with a chronic health condition that has times of respite, is believing somewhere in my deepest soul that it will just "go away" some day...that I will simply wake up and it will be gone....that I will be able to do all the things I did before RA came, uninvited, into my life. That may be the biggest revelation to me. Despite my brain knowing full well that this would not happen, I held on somewhere in my heart to that hope. Is that necessarily bad? I don't think so...as long as we understand that to deal with the realities of a chronic health condition we have to do what needs to be done...every day in every way or it will swallow us up. I will not give up aspiring to having as normal and healthy a life as possible. That is, frankly, what keeps me going. But I do need to stop and reflect now and then on where I am at. That means checking in with that RA Support Team as well as myself to ensure that I am on the right track. I sure have found out how easy it is to get derailed!
I want to stay on track and moving forward and hopefully self-reflection and the many other "tools" for RA management will give me what I need. I will be having my second (and final) foot surgery in January and I especially needed to get my current state of mind in a good place so that 2013 starts off on the "right foot" and with a balanced approach to managing my RA!