Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that affects millions of people every year. It’s characterized by joint inflammation that can lead to stiffness, pain, and swelling. People with rheumatoid arthritis often experience discomfort in their hands and feet, which makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks like writing or buttoning your shirt.
But what about the mental toll of living with an incurable disease? How does it affect your life? Is there any way to find comfort in the face of constant pain?
If you’re struggling with these questions right now, you might be surprised to learn that there are five stages of grief associated with living with rheumatoid arthritis. These stages have been identified by scientists who have studied people with this disease for decades—and they can help you understand how you feel!
Read on for more information about each stage of grief so that you can better cope with living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Stage 1. Denial
There is a saying that “denial is not just a river in Egypt.” But what does it mean? Denial is a human response to fear and anxiety. It’s one of the five stages of grief, and it can happen at any time. It’s a normal part of life, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Rheumatoid arthritis is no exception to this rule—in fact, it’s more common than most people think. If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, there’s a good chance that you are experiencing some level of denial right now. This is natural! You want to avoid the inevitable consequences of your diagnosis as much as possible—and who could blame you? Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly painful condition that can change your entire life in ways you never expected. There are many things we can do to help ourselves get through it: taking a long bath or getting a massage from our significant other, for example—or even calling in sick from work so we can rest and recover from our symptoms.
But there are also things that others can do for us: family members and close friends who will listen without judgment when we need someone to talk about how we’re feeling—and then offer advice on what—and then offer advice on what we should do next. Professional assistance from RA counselors or online forums, as well as support groups, is also invaluable because they help us to see that we’re not alone in this fight.
Stage 2. Anger
It’s incredibly common for people dealing with rheumatoid arthritis to feel angry. When you’ve received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, it can be easy to view the world through a lens of anger. You may feel angry at yourself for not taking better care of your body in the past, or at your doctor for not providing more information about this condition.
But more than anything, you may find yourself angry with the disease itself. After all, it’s not fair—you’ve always taken great care of yourself and have been a healthy person who values exercise and good eating habits. So why did this happen? It can be incredibly frustrating not knowing exactly how this condition came about.
It’s important to remember that anger is unarguably normal when you’re dealing with RA—and that it’s also somewhat natural to want to redirect some of that emotion toward something else (even if it’s just a pillow). That’s what the best rheumatoid arthritis coaches are there for: they serve as an outlet for your frustrations so that you can manage them in healthy ways instead of letting them build up inside until one day you explode at someone or something completely unrelated!
Stage 3. Bargaining
When you’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it can feel like the end of the world. You’re suddenly vulnerable, helpless and alone. You may be feeling like you’ve been thrown into a nightmare that you can’t control. It’s normal to feel this way — and there’s support available if you need it! Take some time to think about what kind of support will help you feel stronger and more confident in your ability to manage RA.
Have you ever had a friend or family member who has RA? If so, ask them how they manage their condition on a day-to-day basis. They might have some great tips for living with RA that could help you out as well!
If you don’t know anyone who has RA, why not reach out to someone who does? You could try contacting your local Arthritis Foundation chapter or rheumatologist (specialist) for advice. Talking through struggles and successes with someone who understands what it’s like is huge — it will help you feel better equipped to take charge of your own treatment plan.
Stage 4. Depression
In this stage, you may feel isolated, helpless and emotional. As your RA progresses, you may find yourself feeling like a burden on those who love you. These feelings are normal, but they can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with these feelings of depression. One way is to take advantage of the support offered by local Rheumatoid Arthritis support groups. A support group can help you connect with others who are going through similar experiences and provide valuable information about living with RA. They can also help you learn new ways to deal with situations that make you feel depressed.
Another way to cope with depression is to seek help from a professional Rheumatoid Arthritis couch or counselor who specializes in treating people with arthritis. This person will work with you on a one-on-one basis to determine what has triggered your depression and how best to manage it.
Stage 5. Acceptance
Finally comes acceptance.
This is where you finally accept that you have rheumatoid arthritis, and that it will be part of your life from now on. You start to accept that you will need help from a professional RA coach. You may even start to realize that some of the things you thought would be possible are no longer feasible for you. If this sounds frightening or overwhelming, take a deep breath. It’s not as bad as it sounds—you’re still the same person you always were! You just need to make some adjustments to your life so that you can live with RA instead of letting it cripple you.