I had a few of these dark days last week. A period of time where my mind spiralled out of control into a place I hate where nothing seems fair or good. The Christmas period is always hard for some people and if you have RA you can relate to trying to fit in all those parties, family gatherings and festivities around a disease that doesn't allow for planning and requires a lot of rest. People often ask me if my condition is worse in the winter, and for some perhaps the cold weather is an additional burden on the joints but for me that isn't really the case. The winter months bring dark days and longer nights and that is the worst part for me, constantly feeling tired and groggy is bad enough without it getting dark at 4 o clock. Christmas, however, should bring some light and joy into that equation of dark days and tired bodies.
This year I haven't really got into the Christmas spirit as yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm no grinch and I usually love this time of year. I look forward to the excitement, the twinkly lights, cozy nights by the fire and time spent with my loved ones. However, this year I lost someone very dear to me and the family and without my grandad around this Christmas it just doesn't feel right. I miss him dearly and I suppose I took it for granted that he would always be with us. Celebrating Christmas this year will be difficult without him, he was the life and soul of our family and I hope he would know how much he would be missed. He will very much be in my thoughts during this time.
Finding it hard without him is another reason I am struggling at the moment and makes me sad on those dark days. I have had a few flare ups especially in my knee which is making things difficult and ive suffered with tonsilitis a couple of times so generally I have been feeling quite rotten and run down. I have done my best to carry on and fight it, hoping that my bad days have fallen pre Christmas this year so I can enjoy time with my family. But on those bad days, where it is hard to do anything but lie in bed and try to wait it out, it becomes difficult to see the good in anything. Your mind wanders from feeling hard done by to questioning your very existence and feeling you haven't achieved anything in life. The mental battle with RA is often as tough as the physical. I have been questioning myself this week because of the lack of activity I have been doing, when you can't do anything it's hard to do anything else but think... And overthink. Some thoughts that came to my head this week were 'what have I actually achieved in life? I'm 29 and because of having to take time out of work I haven't got anywhere in my career, I haven't the income to plan for the future or own a home, I am a burden to my family and friends sometimes, I let people down...' Blah blah. These negative thoughts start to dissipate or morph into more positive actions when I start to feel a little better. Rather than thinking of my career for instance in a negative way I will start to see the achievements I've made to continue working through this, the fact I ran my own business for a while etc. when you are down its often hard to see the silver lining, no matter what encouragement or support you get. It's only when you truly believe in yourself that things start to seem a little brighter. This Christmas I aim to shut out those dark thoughts as much as possible and concentrate on the things I can be so thankful for. Whilst I am deeply saddened by loss this year, I can be thankful for the good times I had and appreciate many people are not so fortunate. When things seem so bad you cannot escape I have learned to take some time, be patient, get some rest and tomorrow will be that little bit brighter and better. I wish you all a healthy and happy Christmas and hope you get to spend time with your loved ones and celebrate all the good things in your life.