RA BLOG Week: RA/Rheumatoid Disease and Mental Health

a-lot-on-your-mind
A Lot on Your Mind by Evan Sheline

If you get a cold or the flu, it’s okay because in a few days or a week, you will return to your healthy self. In those days, it will be physically and mentally draining. After all, no one enjoys being sick even if it for a week. Imagine the nightmare of becoming ill with something you can not get rid of. Imagine the pain comes in all variables to be described as nagging aches to excruciating to kill me now. You can’t do all of the things you use to do and what you can do has to be modified. How will you continue to survive and thrive in this world? How will you continue to provide for your family? Will you be able to do all of the things you planned? Will people think you are lazy or have given up if you can no longer work? What about your dreams? What about your goals? What is this new diagnosis? And another one and another one as a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. What the hell is happening here? Friendships and relationships change. Marriages change. You’re too young for this. You were thinking about enjoying your retirement…without pain. What do we do now? Why me? I am sick of hurting. Can I have a day of no pain???

The matters of the universe swirl in your head and the weight of the world is your shoulders. The impact of RA on your mental health can be devastating. It was for someone like me who was already an emotional human being who has lived through some very tragic moments. Now what? Another thing to hide. Another thing to deal with privately. I don’t want people to know I am depressed. I don’t want people to know I am anxious. I don’t want people to know I stand on the ledge of suicide. They will label me weak. And you don’t want to be labeled weak in the African American community. Or crazy. We associate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as “crazy.” Ah, the stigma.

What do I do? How do I deal with the mental impact of RA? I try to take it day by day. I put on my brave face and walked boldly into the psychiatrist’s office, the one that has a brown face like me, and I said “I am sinking. Drowning in this sea of emotions and pain. Help me.” And then we went to work. Because seeing a therapist is WORK. A good therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, knows the tools you need to cope with life’s tragedies. It does not, DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE WEAK, it means you are smart to seek help. And those who say you are “weak” or “crazy’ are the ones who are in need of help and don’t even know it. I use the tools my therapist gives me. Daily.

I practice yoga to help mind to focus on what is right in front of me.  It helps me to control my breathing. It helps me to control my thoughts. It helps to keep me in the now.

Meditation. Get you some. It helps me to see into myself. I can assess myself. I can create my future. I can pinpoint in my body my issues.

Prayer. It is my lifeline to my Source. It is how I talk to someone, when I can’t talk to anyone.

A personal relationship with the Creator (yes Source, yes God and not the God of this or that religion, but GOD). A deep, committed relationship, a bond, a sealed union. This relationship gives me strength. It empowers me. It serves me. It is my refuge. It is my stronghold. It is a friendship, a parental relationship, that has stood the test of time with unconditional love…mostly on God’s end. God has never wavered in love for me. Even as I tossed and rolled like a raging sea.

All of these things keep me grounded and honestly, above the ground.

~Nikki

#rablogweek2017

rabadge2017

Advertisements

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Waiting and Doing

ab74dd04a967fe2c35b96a0da8ceb046

One morning when my daughter was a baby and I was on my way to work, I recall being extremely upset.  I don’t remember what my daughter’s father said or did to make me so upset that early in the morning, but I do remember driving on the expressway fighting back tears and anger. I do remember wanting to wish ill will on him, but holding myself at bay. I remember feeling immense mixed emotions. And I said “I am so angry, I can’t even pray!” Immediately, I heard a voice saying: “I will pray for you.” I wasn’t sure if it was the Holy Spirit or Jesus or an angel. It really doesn’t matter.

Yesterday and this morning I am dealing with depression and some anxiety. It was late when I got up and I laid there and just prayed some. I said, “I just don’t know what to pray anymore as I feel I may say the wrong things out of frustration.” I did not have an appetite yesterday, but ate dinner. I don’t have one today, but I have eaten lunch as I was urged to do in my spirit. I asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me and then I began to do my part. I wait for strength and change of mood and I “do” as much as I can. Yesterday, I could just do the basics and today, I am typing, sharing this with you. I have eaten.

Here is something, the entire time you are in a dark place of depression or anxiety, God is sending you messages. God is in touch with you. It could be the call from a parent, something that makes you laugh, sun on your face, an angel number with a message, a quote, something that you read, things brought to your remembrance…a number of small brief things. Inches of rope in your hope that “This moment too shall pass.” I want to encourage you, and hopefully others that have love ones that have moments like these, to let them wait and do as much as they can. Even if it is very little to you. Encourage them for the simple things. “That’s great you sat outside for a while. That’s good you got something down to eat. Eating will give you strength.” You don’t have to run over and slap oil on their heads or pray demons away. Sometimes just waiting with them, praying on your end, and encouraging is enough. My soul is waiting.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Family Daggers Add Up

12d22fbeceaf25821bc99c204ecbe0d2

These little digs or shots of negativity, insults, slights, slickness, insensitivity, meanness, rudeness that come from family are like daggers. Short, sharp knives that after receiving so many can kill your spirit because they do add up and the silence of not saying anything about it can eat you alive. Either way, it gets old if you are the person being told to “let it slide” or “forgive them” or “respect your elders” or “that’s just the way they are.” At what point do we address the dagger throwers in the family and why is everyone afraid of them? We don’t want to hurt the dagger throwers feelings, but it’s okay for them to hurt other people’s feelings? It’s a logic I can’t seem to understand. We don’t want to cause any problems, but we refuse to put a stop to those causing the problems.

~Nikki

 

RA Blog: All Eyes on Me (Thee)

f1d71a2e7af99d1fae646b924d78a3dd

It seems as if everyone else is whizzing right past you as you “mosey” along or perhaps you are not moving at all. Maybe, you are stuck. Well, I have goals because I set goals. I have dreams and new dreams, new visions, things I want to see happen in the face of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and all of that other noise that seems to slow me down and sometimes get the best of me.

In the effort to lose weight, to achieve my other goals as well, it seems as if the well abled bodied people are just flying right past me. Soaring to their goals, and I, I am left behind in their dust. Me? I’m struggling to stay motivated. I can’t walk that fast, like I use to. I can’t use my hands very well today, I can’t stand as long as I use to, the fatigue…it’s what some call excuses, but it’s a reality for many of us. We are not who we use to be and oh if we would have known this was coming, we may have did the 5K or went back to school sooner.

Q: Dear God, Universe, Creator, Self, Spirit, how do I deal with all the feels of being left behind?

A: Take your eyes off others and put your eyes on me. Keep your eyes on “your” prize. Stop the comparison. It’s unfair and foolish to compare yourself with well abled bodied people and it’s unfair to compare yourself to the old self. You can’t be in the past and present at the same time. This is why you are not progressing as fast or at all.

So, with that revelation, I invite you to meditation and prayer. Center yourself during the times when you are “feeling” so much despair and disappointment. If I keep watching others I will fall. If I keep comparing myself to others, I will fail. If I keep living in the past, I can’t work in the present to prepare for my future. All eyes on the Creator. All eyes on the scriptures, affirmations, practices, that center your heart and mind.

~Nikki

Hope

ce355a8ad06093c2be9e128531c61a4c

Hope anchors the soul of the anxious and the depressed. -Nicole Jackson

RA BLOG: Limiting Pity Parties

Pity has a pit that is hard to get out of once you fall into it. If you’re going to dance around it, do so from a distance and make it less than often.-Nicole Jackson

d94906679f96a2fb7fe16a3556d6c65d

I can tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, never feel sorry for yourself, or that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. Either you do or you don’t or you use to. Perhaps you have a different personality and you never felt sorry for yourself. If this is you, then I might suggest you have some compassion, some empathy, or try to understand those that do.

Feeling sorry for yourself can lead you into a pit. There is a difference when it comes to having a pity party…parties must come to an end and the sooner the pity party ends the better. You see, if a person falls into a pit of pity then that is a very dark place. Some never make it out and it turns into a debilitating way of living and approaching life. It’s all about what you use to could do and all about what you can’t do now. It focuses on what RA or an illness or disease has taken away from you and not what you still have left. Or what you can obtain now! It’s all about your problems, never about solutions. It’s about “I can’t before you try” or a “I tried once and I’ll never try again.”

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve had some pity parties way before Rheumatoid Arthritis exploded into my bones. I am sure it was the talking of wise people, encouraging people, that said a combination of “You’ve got to get over this, get over it, feel what you feel, don’t feel, etc.”that lead me to a method that has lessened my pity parties and the time spent in them. The method for me is, depending on what has happened and the depth of it, is: PUT A TIME LIMIT ON IT and start shutting the party down. I can’t tell you not to throw one in the first place, I don’t control how you feel no more than you can control how I feel. But, if you are going to go there, know that you can’t stay at this party too long and no one else wants to stay too long either!  Your party can turn into a PIT! I limit myself to 5 minutes to a few days and then I have to, I must start working my way out, regardless of how I feel. REGARDLESS OF HOW I FEEL.

You work your way out by moving, physically. You work your way out with prayer. You work your way out with telling yourself the TRUTH about yourself (who God says you are) and not who others say you are. You build yourself up and instead of tearing yourself down. This is how you get out of the pit or shut the pit party down. You see a therapist, you see a pastor, you use the skills, you get a self help book, or you surround yourself with a support group. Whatever you have to do, you do it!  (But, it’s hard Nikki…well, don’t let that stop you)

~Nikki

 

 

 

Expanding Your Perception of Acceptable Beauty

img_20170107_191951_347

If beauty is only what you see in the mirror, what media has shoved in front of you, or worse, what your race has taught you, then perhaps you need to challenge all of the above. Yes, it would be absolutely a show of your proclaimed intelligence to question why you think the way you do about beauty. And if you really want to show off your degrees or intellect, you would dare to understand what the standard for beauty has done in terms of damage to cultures and throughout the generations of others.

Just because a person does not look like you does not make you more beautiful. Just because you have more or less of this and that does not make your more beautiful. Just because their hair is different doesn’t make yours appropriate and theirs “need something done to it.” What we have here is more than a set of opinions. What we have here is a mindset that needs to be destroyed. They tell me beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if the mind of the beholder is warped…if it’s laced with prejudices…if it’s narrow…then perhaps that beholder is blind.

~Nikki