Seek Out Friends with RA
While their journey and symptoms may not be identical to yours, they can give you tips and tricks for dealing with RA specific issues and can be a great support when dealing with friends and family who don’t “get” what it means to have an invisible illness.
Many hospitals with a rheumatology department host such support groups. If there isn’t one directly at the hospital, they may also know of one near by and may be able to refer you. If this isn’t the case, a simple search online will reveal a whole host of RA support groups where you can chat with others on the Internet.
While this may seem impersonal to most, you might find that you can share some pretty intimidate details with others without feeling embarrassed or judged. This can lead to some pretty intense friendships that may carry on off the Internet as well.
Most people see a therapist or counsellor when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, and getting an RA diagnosis should be no different in that respect. Although RA is typically not an illness that will kill you, it may potentially mean the death of the life you had before.
Seeing a therapist or counselor, even on a temporary basis, can really help you digest your emotions and learn coping skills specific to your case and your personality. There are even therapists that specialize in dealing with people who have chronic illnesses, so this is a fantastic way to try and come to grips with what you’re going through. It may not be easy, but it is a constructive way of processing your emotions.
Let Your Doctor Know If You Experience Depression or Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can be a normal part of accepting that you are living with a disease that will never go away. However, you need to keep your rheumatologist and/or counselor up to date if you begin to feel desperate or unable to cope.
You may be eligible to go on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication for a period of time in order to ease the symptoms and make the situation much more emotionally tolerable.
Start Thinking About a Plan B
For some people, a diagnosis of RA means they may have to rearrange their plans and goals. This doesn’t mean you will have to completely give up on everything you’re aiming for in life, but it may mean you will have to rearrange some things.
This may mean putting in flexible hours at work, seeking alternative employment or simply slowing down in general. It may be worth it to speak to a counselor or career coach to discuss your options so your workload doesn’t suddenly become massively overwhelming.
The most important aspect of accepting your diagnosis is seeking support. No one should deal with this life changing news alone and it can feel quite impossible to deal with that. Instead, lean on others as much as possible while learning to navigate the disease and empower yourself.