Throughout the period of my personal suffering, I have discovered that the ways of expressing misery are infinite. I have often wondered how others express their sadness and pain and if I was being over dramatic when it came to my wails in the night or sobbing throughout the day. My admissions to hospital provided evidence to suggest that everyone copes with suffering in different ways. The older ladies I have often been situated next to in my hospital bed made great efforts to call out to someone, anyone, that could hear them in the night. Others I have come across have shed silent tears in the hope that people won’t be aware of their pain. I have spent days where I have barely been able to stop the flow of tears, which inevitably left me feeling worse with headaches and general ‘puffiness’. I tend to be a mixture of all these expressions. On occasion I have wept hoping that no one will notice so I won’t be treated differently and other times I have been ready to shout to the world my complaints of stiffness and discomfort.
I do feel it is important to communicate your sadness, as keeping it all in is only asking for trouble and more stress on top of your distressing condition. At the same time, it is also important to express happiness. I have found that your emotional state has a huge impact on your physical health. On my cheerier days, I have felt substantially better just from wearing a smile on my face. The release from a prison of misery is incredibly overwhelming. I have shed tears of joy on the days where things seemed to be going right for a change, due to sheer disbelief I imagine. Mainly I express my happiness by being a ‘normal’ person. I go about my day ‘normally’ to a point where a stranger would not guess I have a crippling condition that leaves me bed ridden on occasions. The feeling that people are treating me no differently than any other young woman they may see on the street is hard to believe, as I know behind closed doors my family and close friends see a different picture.
My emotions are heightened these days, from extreme sadness to overwhelming happiness. It can be exhausting holding all those feelings within an aching and tired body. Relaxation is the key. If you have a bad day, when possible, take some time out and do something that will make you smile even if it’s for an hour. Perhaps a relaxing bath, reading a favourite book or listening to a CD by yourself for a few moments can provide the release of emotional stress you may desperately need. I am not saying this will work for everyone, but for me, the time I settle down and get lost in a good book ensures that for at least a few moments I forget I am the girl with RA.