I wrote this on February 12, 2013, after continually being diagnosed with RA. I’m still doing the best I can. I still refuse to be one of those inspirational brave people.
You know how you always hear inspirational stories of people who receive life-altering diagnoses but live to fight another day and say things like, “My disease is not going to stop me from living my life the way I want to”?
I don’t want to be negative, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. And you know what I think of that?
I am afraid. I am depressed. But most of all I am ANGRY. Afraid of what this disease is going to do to my joints and maybe even my organs if the treatments don’t work or if I’m not properly treated to begin with. Depressed because almost overnight this disease turned the simplest daily tasks I once took for granted into difficult things and because I haven’t been able to wear my heels in months (yes, shoes are that important). Angry because my immune system is against me and because this disease has already started to take its toll on my quality of life at the ripe old age of 24. Sometimes, I am even angry with my parents for passing on the inferior genetics that led to this.
I refuse to grin and bear it. I refuse to be “brave.” Basically, I just refuse to lie to myself. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I envy those people that can find meaning in their suffering and the strength to go on by trusting that their god is on their side. Although that discussion is for another day, I will say that has never been me. Because even as a child believing in god seemed like a silly proposition, I have to find the strength to keep fighting for every day of my life from within. And because believing in god will probably always seem silly to me, I will have to keep finding the strength from within even if/when this thing starts to take its toll. But I will never find meaning in the suffering. I will never believe that this is all a test and that if I’m “brave” and I grin and bear it I will pass and go to heaven.
I’m for my own brand of bravery. It’s called honesty. That is something I can champion. My disease is going to stop me from living my life the way I want to. Why? Because I never wanted to live the life of an unhealthy person. I never wanted to live with pain as my reality. And I definitely did not want to face my own mortality this early in life.
Bravery means I will be honest with myself. This is not okay. It never will be okay. I never was the type to stay angry, so eventually I will be able to make peace with the war being waged inside me. I might even be able to stop thinking about it every second of every day. Hell, I might even be able to make jokes about it pretty soon (okay, maybe not that soon).
For now, I’m going to cry like a baby whenever I need to; I’m going to accept the love and support my friends and family have to offer, even if that includes accepting their prayers (because even an Atheist cannot see prayer as condescending when backed by love); I’m going to take refuge in the strong arms of my boyfriend, my life partner; and I am definitely going to do whatever it takes to ensure that I live my life as normally as possible.
Because I want to run and wear heels and because I want to run in heels whenever life calls for it.
This thing will not rob me of my zest for life. I worked too hard for that.
I will be happy. I will be kind. I will love.
I will live.