I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 12, and I am now 30 years old. So basically, it has been affecting me most of my adult life. I would like to share my experience with you, in hopes that it might help you just a little.
My arthritis started out very mild. The doctor told my parents that it was nothing to worry about. A few years later it got a little more serious, but it was still nothing serious. Last year though, things began to get a little grimmer for me.
I was prescribed methotrexate for my disease just last year, which is a drug with lots of unwanted side-effects. First of all, it suppresses your immune system, causes hair-loss, and it is also used to cure cancer. Personally when I take it, it makes me feel like I have a bad cold or the flu. I'm still taking this drug, and although it makes me quite nervous, it gives me hope that I'm on a road to feeling better in the future. And that's one of the most important things when fighting arthritis. Looking to the future, and looking for a possible solution that will relieve some of these symptoms.
The worst thing that you can do is getting depressed and giving up hope. I have been there. It is hard to feel sick everyday, and be confined to your bed when it is a beautiful day outside. It gets tiring to have swollen joints and not being able to run or jump like your other friends can. But what I have come to realize is that I can't focus on my limitations, I have to focus on the positive aspects of my life. I find that when my mind is happy, my arthritis is not as bad as when I get stressed or depressed.
I have always loved the outdoors. I love to go hiking and camping. And although my disease has somewhat limited my ability to do what I love, I have not let it completely defeat me. Yes, my bones get stiff when I'm hiking up a mountain, and I'm afraid that my body will break to pieces. It's definitely tough, but the best thing that you can do is learn to cope with with.
I have also met and connected with other people that have arthritis. It's hard for people that don't have the disease to understand how things feel. Connecting with those like me has allowed me to identify myself a bit more clearly, and also know that I'm not alone.
Living with arthritis is not easy. The disease itself definitely hasn't gotten better overtime, but as with anything in life you can learn to adapt to it. Humans are adaptable creatures. Arthritis inflicts a lot of pain and damage to your bones, but you must not let it get to your brain.