When I was growing up, one of my favorite songs was by Kermit the Frog, from The Muppets. It was called It’s Not Easy Being Green and it was about feeling different than others. Today, during RA blog week 2017, I can relate to that song all over again because of having several autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s Easy to Feel Like a Tortoise in With a Bunch of Hares

When I listen to other people talk about all of their activities and busy schedules, it’s easy to feel pretty pitiful, because I just can’t keep up that pace anymore. They are up at 5 a.m., going to the gym before work, running their kids around to various activities, going to after-hours business events, cooking elaborate dinners, hosting parties, and doing home improvement projects.

Meanwhile, if I can manage to work from 9 to 4 without taking a midday nap, I’m doing well. A 20-minute walk can wear me out, and by the time I’m finished playing taxi driver for my teenagers after school activities, I am beat. I can’t drink with the variety of medications I am on, but if I could, all that glass of wine would do is put me right to sleep! Needless to say, knowing that can make me feel like a real party pooper.

Guarding Against Jealousy with a Sense of Gratitude

While having time to stop and smell the roses comes with a slower lifestyle, there are many times I wish I could go back to my old life and busy schedule. Jealousy can easily creep in if I’m not careful, and self-pity the most destructive of emotions can set in. I have to guard against wanting to keep up with the Joneses not materially, but physically with a solid sense of gratitude.

Anytime I start feeling sorry for myself, I begin writing out a gratitude list. Right now, I am looking out my kitchen window, watching hummingbirds fight over access to the little red feeder I put out for the last week. When I see them drinking the sweet sugar water I made for them, it makes me smile. If I was out running around, busy all day, I wouldn’t ever have noticed these tiny creatures. My resting time is giving me something in return, and for that, I am grateful.

It Feels Good to Give, Even in Small Ways

This month, I am also grateful my home didn’t flood in Hurricane Harvey. I am grateful I’ve had some extra time and energy even if just to buy someone a cup of coffee or bring them a pizza to help others who did flood. I can’t do hours of heavy labor like other volunteers are doing, but I know that even the little things count, and that makes me feel good.

The longer I live with RA, the more I realize that even though it can be limiting at times, I have a choice about my attitude. It’s okay to grieve my old life. Yes, I can become sad, annoyed, or even downright angry at times. The key is just not to stay in that grief, and to realize that my life isn’t over, just because I have RA. Every day, I can choose to focus on the good that still exists in my life. It IS there, but I have to take the time to notice it and to be grateful. Life is too short to let RA steal my joy!

This post was written by Linda W. Perkins for Day 1 of RA Blog Week. Today’s prompt: Mental Health, How do you manage to maintain your mental health while dealing with autoimmune disease? Discuss how dealing with RA every day makes you emotional. Do you hide your emotions? Find more bloggers’ takes on the topic here.

Linda is a member of the Pack Health’s Member Advisory Board, a guest blogger on the Pack Health blog, and the author/founder of Spring Sight, where she blogs about her faith and staying positive with autoimmune disease.

Read next: 

Living in Community, by Linda W Perkins

Getting Motivated to Help Yourself, by Linda W Perkins

I have RA: Now What?, by Linda W Perkins

A Little Self Care Goes a Long Way, by Linda W. Perkins

 

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