Starting the Conversation
Starting the conversation is the hardest part since you allow your worry to second guess your intention. Because of this, review these sample conversation starters based on different goals. Are you ready to take the first step? Here’s how:
Goal: To let someone know that you have RA.
Method: I wanted to let you know that I was diagnosed with a disease called rheumatoid arthritis. People call it RA for short. It is not contagious and you cannot see it, but it causes pain in my bones and makes me feel tired. My doctor is putting me on medication and I hope it helps. I’m telling you because you are important to me, and you deserve to know. I really hope to have your support and patience. Please let me know if you have any questions and we can discuss them whenever you want.
Goal: To tell someone that you are frustrated by their lack of understanding regarding your RA.
Method: I feel disappointed and frustrated when you don’t acknowledge the impact RA has on my life. I would appreciate more compassion and understanding from you. You can do this by being more patient with me when my symptoms are high.
Goal: To tell someone that you can no longer interact with them because of this lack of understanding.
Method: I feel sad when you ignore my RA symptoms and blame me for my symptom flares. Because of this, I can no longer have a relationship with you. I need to surround myself with positive people and you have not been an asset over recent months. If you are interested in gaining more understanding and empathy in the future, I would be happy to restart our relationship.
These are just a few examples, but hopefully, the themes are consistent. You begin with how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and what you would like the other person to do.
At times, you may only want them to listen or to give you more space. This is only the beginning, but the way you start something is a predictor of how you will finish.
RA, like other chronic medical conditions, will negatively impact your life in tremendous ways if you let it. One of the reasons why positive communication is so crucial is that it keeps you connected to your supports and reduces other stressors.
If you stay assertive, know your subject and start the conversation, you can live happily ever after.