My name is Rebecca and I have arthritis anxiety. It’s a condition that I have totally made up but one that I’m sure lots of us can relate to. It’s the anxiety caused when thinking about how your arthritis will impact upon a certain activity or social situation.
Before my diagnosis I wasn’t a particularly anxious person. Sure, I had the odd worry like everyone else, but I enjoyed a generally anxiety-free life. Now? I suffer from arthritis anxiety most days.
My arthritis is often the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of at night. From trying to work out how many hours I can manage at work, based on how good a sleep I managed the night before, to trying to establish if I should go out with friends on methotrexate day, or if I’m better off staying at home to rest up and sleep it off. Everything seems to worry me.
I had a particularly bad case of it recently when attending a wedding, my first since my diagnosis. My mind went into overdrive weeks before the actual day, thinking about all the situations that I could possibly face. Have I packed enough medication? Will I be strong enough to stand around during all the waiting and photographs? Will I be able to dance? If I don’t dance, will I be OK about this? Will I become upset being sat down when watching everyone else enjoying themselves? Will fatigue knock me out by the time we eat and will my head fall into my soup? Will anyone notice that I’m wearing black boring comfy shoes instead of pretty high heels? Will I remember to take my medication and so on and so on. I had thought of every possible situation and it was mentally draining.
In a fit of tears at the thought of not being able to dance at the wedding, my Mum told me: “Look for the positive of the new situation you find myself in. Maybe you’ll be sat with some lovely people. Maybe you’ll enjoy being sat and taking everything in. Find something positive in the situation and just enjoy.”
It turns out, she was correct, as Mums usually are. When I was at the wedding, most of these thoughts went from my mind. There were benches for me to sit on when photographs were being taken. I wasn’t the only one in flat shoes. We sat with some lovely people. I didn’t fall asleep in the soup. And as for the disco? Sure, I missed dancing all night, but I managed to get up to dance to a few songs. My boyfriend was picked to demonstrate how to dance a certain ceilidh dance and he was awful. I have never laughed so much and caught it all on film. If I had been dancing too, I might not have appreciated just how funny the situation was.
My arthritis anxiety might always be with me to some extent, but for now, the best thing for me to do is to try and make the best of all situations and not let the fear of what my arthritis might do control my life.
I need to learn to not over-think situations, and to go with the flow, even on bad days. It’s something I’m working on but I’m hopeful I’ll get there. I just need to remember to breathe, look for the positives along the way and enjoy this new life my arthritis has given me.
Everything will be ok.
Meet Rebecca and other friendly folk on Arthur’s Place Social, our Facebook Group
(Any opinions expressed in Rebecca’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Rebecca’s blog constitutes medical advice.)