Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. These are some people’s stories.
Chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect your lifestyle and capabilities in ways that others may not always be able to understand. Regardless of how close you are and how much you matter to each other, only you know what’s going on inside your own body. This can strain friendships and relationships with co-workers, family members, and loved ones.
We reached out to our Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis community on Facebook to get an understanding of the impact that living with RA can have on a person’s ability to connect with other people — and to learn how our community has dealt with these new dynamics. We asked: How has RA impacted your social life?
These were their responses:
“It changes everything. People do not understand just how much. Friends and family just evaporate. The isolation is hard. The lack of energy and inability to stand too long and/or sit too long makes a lot of social outings really hard. I never know how I will feel from one day to the next.”
— Misty H.
“I’m lucky I still go out with friends, etc., but I am more likely to be the designated driver these days, because meds mean I can only have one or two drinks. I’ll still dance all night, too. But I pay for it over the next few days! Making memories helps keep me positive, so I force myself to go even when I’m feeling tired.”
— Toni T.
“I refuse to let it change anything. I don’t care how tired I am, how much pain I am in, I show it that I’m still in charge and I go get **** done. I refuse to let this disease take over my life.”
— Sonya B.
“I rarely am able to enjoy being active like I was before. I’m very fatigued and often in pain. Just not working has cut my social life in half. Not sure if people really understand the impact that RA has on your life.”
— Angie W.
“It has taken my life as I knew it. I don’t go anywhere except to church. I fear catching something. I feel as though I am weakening away, but I can’t build any strength for [fear of] pain or lack of balance. I miss all school functions of my grandchildren. My youngest grandson will not ever remember the grandma I was to the others. Playing ball, walking in outdoor ‘adventures,’ or jumping in the leaves. But God has a plan.” — Phyllis M.
“I am much less outgoing. I cannot participate in active events because I might hurt myself or overdo it, and I have to be rested to work. I sleep more and have to cancel and reschedule due to a flare or fatigue. I find that I enjoy time alone now.”
— Candie H.
“It’s difficult. If others don’t know about the problems with RA, they think you’re being an antisocial snob. If you try to explain anything about your type of RA problems, they think you’re a complainer with hypochondria. It’s a no-win. Easier to stay home and be quiet. Even my mother-in-law doesn’t ‘get it.’”
— Norma Z.
“I don’t really have one anymore. Between being broke financially and exhausted and in pain physically, I don’t even try anymore. Outside of seeing my grown children, I see the same two friends — all I have now, outside of work — once a month for an hour or so. We meet for dinner immediately after work. I go to church and the grocery on Sundays with my son and am spent the rest of the weekend and week. Other people in my life just don’t get it, so we no longer hang out or even talk.”
— Kelli M.
“It’s hard to plan anything. I can get up one day and function, and the next morning can hardly move. I don’t have the stamina, either. I get tired easily.”
— Charlotte A.
“I do my best to maintain a social life. We don’t go out as much, but we do have friends and family over. I’ve learned to pace myself and to keep things simple.”
— Ruth D.