Saturday, June 1, 2019

Staying Positive in Spite of Chronic Pain

One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is how I manage to stay positive in spite of my psoriatic arthritis. I've got a great life, an understanding family and a true work/life balance. One of the things that I say on a regular basis is how lucky I am, and I am very thankful for the good in my life. Still, positivity can be a struggle for me. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to be positive. Here are a few tips I can offer up for staying positive when dealing with any type of chronic pain.

One of the most important things that I do is see my therapist regularly. I haven't always really understood the importance of talk therapy. After all, I'm not shy and I don't hide my issues, so why not just talk to my friends about my concerns? Well, because they aren't necessarily equipped to offer impartial advice. They may not encourage me to really look for the ways that I contribute to my own issues. My daughter really encouraged me to see a therapist and I am so thankful to her for that.

I give myself permission to rest and do nothing, when it's possible. There is nothing I love more than a rainy weekend! That's because I don't feel any pressure to get out and see how much I can accomplish in a weekend when the weather is bad. Somehow, the rain gives me permission to lounge around all day watching movies and drinking coffee.

When I feel really good, I try to take advantage of it. In fact, if I wake up and have lots of energy and little to no pain, I might brush off my grown up responsibilities just to enjoy the fact that I can have some fun. Buying groceries and doing laundry can wait until another time.

While we're on the subject of postponing grocery shopping, you might wonder why I would postpone this for a time that I'm not feeling at my best. I have a little secret about this chore. I rarely step foot into a grocery store. Instacart has become my new best friend. When it's time for grocery shopping, I realized that I prefer to let someone else do this for me so that I can spend my limited energy elsewhere. The groceries are delivered right to my door! (If you want to try Instacart, use this link and we'll each get a $10 discount.) 
There are also times when I don't have the energy to cook - and also don't have the energy for my husband to cook (since my OCD won't allow me to rely solely on his clean-up.) At those times, I take advantage of Grubhub. This was a life saver to me after my total knee replacement surgery! (I also linked to a $12 Grubhub discount for each of us.)

Connecting with a group of people who have the same issues is very helpful to me. I love the groups that I participate in on Facebook. I've also gone to conferences and events that have allowed me to meet others with psoriatic disease. It feels so good to talk to people who really understand from a first hand perspective.

My pets are one of my key secrets to staying positive. My dog is always so happy to see me and lets me know it every time I walk in the door. My cat appreciates just sitting on my lap letting me give him the attention he deserves. It's hard not to be happy with these guys at home!

Because I've lived so much of my life with psoriatic arthritis, it's part of who I am. I could feel sorry for myself or I could find a way to make this the life I want to have, and I choose the latter. 

I want to be very clear that I've had arthritis for nearly 30 years and have gone through a range of emotions during these years. Please do not beat yourself up if it's not easy for you to remain positive. This is a serious disease that changes your life. Take time to mourn the life you thought you would have. After you've done that, I encourage you to make an effort to find the positive. It's still there. It's just harder to find. 

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