Rheumatoid Arthritis and Stress

Arthritis and Stress: The Reverse Cause and Effect

People with arthritis must confront the same kinds of stress as everyone else. Additionally, living with chronic arthritis creates another medley of stressful problems. Chronic arthritis adds the stress of pain, fatigue, depression, dependence, altered finances, employment, social life, self-esteem and self-image.

During stressful times, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and physical changes occur. The physical changes give the body added strength and energy and prepare the body to deal with the stressful event. When stress is dealt with positively the body restores itself and repairs any damage caused by the stress. However, when stress builds up without any release, it affects the body negatively.

A vicious cycle occurs in the relationship of arthritis and stress. The difficulties which arise from living with chronic arthritis create stress. The stress causes muscle tension and increased pain along with worsening arthritic symptoms. The worsening symptoms lead back to more stress.

You can read the whole article at this link: http://arthritis.about.com/cs/indexcope/a/effectofstress.htm

I have found the above information to be very true. Usually I am a laid back person. I don’t let very much bother me. But when things get too bad, and when I’m confronted with a bad situation, or a fight, or become too worried about things in my life, I literally start to feel ill at my stomach. Since the onset of my R.A. I’ve noticed that when things become too stressful, I tend to get the worst flares.

Pain wise, the worst night of my life was at the end of August last year. My father had just remarried, and me and my siblings drove the six hours to watch him remarry someone we didn’t really know. The car trip was hard on me, but the stress of the event was unimaginable. There were huge disputes between my brother and father. Between my new step mother and us. Between our father and her. Everyone was arguing over everything. She was making ridiculous demands and our father was backing her up. Long story short, I was stressed.

Not only that, but I also had to be in my best friends wedding in another week. I had been stressing over the fact that my health was very bad, and I very worried about not being able to make it down the aisle. She went ballistics when I mentioned it. Understandably so. She started crying hysterically. Saying I had to. It would ruin her wedding. Etc. I felt disgusted with myself and my body. I wasn’t on any heavy medication at the moment. And I was already suffering. (In the end I was a bridesmaid. I was walked up the aisle, but instead of standing up with the bridesmaids and the bride, I was dropped off in the front row next to her mother and father. It was a bit humiliating really. Because everyone saw it of course. Then after the ceremony, my partner picked me back up and everyone watched me some more)

So when I got back from the wedding I sat on the couch to relax. I was staying with my best friends parents at the time ( Another reason I was stressed.Temporary housing and all…) I was hurting pretty bad by the time I sat down. Me and my friends mother watched some t.v. and I fell asleep. She covered me with a blanket and went upstairs to sleep. I woke up about three. I still have never felt such pain in my life. I woke up because I had to pee. The second I moved I started crying. At the time my doctor had recently started prescribing me pain medication. But I had left my purse about twenty feet away on the table. I don’t think I can possibly explain pain like that. I started to panic because I literally could not get up. I couldn’t push myself off the couch like usual. I usually push up with my arms. My hand and arms and shoulders were worse than they had ever been. I could not get off the couch. My arms were too weak. My legs were in so much pain they were useless. I thought about crawling, but knew I’d never be able to get back up. Not to mention I wouldn’t be able to kneel or use my knees. It was three a.m. And I thought about the humiliation I was going to face if I had an accident on their couch. It was beyond depressing. I felt like a child. A helpless thing. And I don’t like to feel like that.

Luckily I found my cell found underneath me and as much as I hated to, I called upstairs and apologized profusely and asked for help. They came down. Even with their help, it took me about ten minutes to stand. Every time they pulled or tried to lift, it was agonizing. I eventually stood, and it was even worse. I have had alot of pain in my knees through the past couple years. I have had endless amounts of mornings that felt like pure torture. But nothing compares to that night. Its hard to explain. It almost feel like getting a sledge hammer to the knee with every step. They eventually carried me to the bathroom, then to my bedroom. I took a couple pain pills and went to sleep.

The next morning I went to the doctors and have been on steroids ever since. So when I am hurting, I always look back to that night and remember.

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So I’m having a bit of a flare now.  Things have been looking up lately. Health wise. The last shots I had really seemed to help. They’re beginning to wear off though. But they have been great. And the Enbrel must be working too. I felt better than I have in awhile. So I know it must be stress that’s making me feel to terrible.

I got in a fight with my younger brother. I have never been in such a fight in my life. I have never flown off the handle like that. I am always the peace maker. But I snapped. I don’t know what happened. And now I feel terrible.

It was all terribly silly looking back. But at the time it wasn’t. I have never been in such a rage. I said such horrible things to him. My brother. Who I’ve always been so close to. I said such unforgivable things. And so did he. The ironic part was that the reason I finally snapped was because I was so mad at him because he never can control his temper! And to prove how mad it made me, I acted much worse than he had. We broke things. He got angry and started throwing things, and I hit him with my cane and it seems so ridiculous now. It was so white trash of us. I mean, I beat him with my cane? That’s something we always joke about. Shut up or I’ll beat you with my cane. Haha, right?

I mean, this is so far out of character for me. I’m disgusted. I cant even call him because his phone is broke, and I don’t know where he is. He lives 4 hours away and was down waiting for my dad to return so he could get some money he was owed. I don’t know where he’s at or if he’s ok.

I wouldn’t even let him get all of his stuff. I wouldn’t stop screaming. I told him I never wanted to see him again. I said terrible things. He said I better give him back every penny he has ever given me for doctors. I know neither one of us meant any of it.

I don’t know what made me explode. He’s always had a terrible temper, but usually I just let things slide. But this time he was rude, and I just snapped. Maybe I was just on edge because of not sleeping. I don’t know. But he was in a bad mood, and kept slamming things, and slamming doors, and I got angrier and angrier. Then he threw my sisters keys across the street and let her dog out. And she proceeded to attack some more of the neighbors cats. And that’s is why I exploded. It was all just too much.

Anyways, its all very silly. I wrote him an email. I don’t know when he’ll get it. He is the type of person to drop people when he argues with them. He didn’t speak with my father for 3 years.

 Long story short. I’m in pain. I was doing so good too.

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Im in a funk

Ive spent the past couple days painting an old dressing table my aunt gave me. I’ve been taking it slow. Just a little bit at a time. My brother helped by sanding it first and at the moment its still sitting on my porch half painted. It has this huge round mirror attached. Its pretty. I sort of hate it right now though.

I live in Texas so of course its oppressively hot already.  Which means, its tank top time. Which means that while Im sitting in front of this thing painting, I keep catching glances of myself in the mirror. Its the bright red that I keep catching out of the corner of my eye.

When you avoid mirrors and refuse to look at yourself when you undress, then self denial really can work.

These stretch marks aren’t going to go away though. They’re very deep. They are very red, and they are everywhere.  They stretch all the way across my arms, all the way to my elbows. Its the first time Ive seen them from straight on. Sometimes at night when I’m reading, and laying on my side, I can see them on the inside of my upper arm. I just pull my sleeve down more, and try to ignore it.

And its not just my arms. Its my legs. They’re all over my legs. They go as far down as my knees. Damnit! I asked and asked and asked to get off the stupid fucking pills! Damnit! ARG! I’m so angry right now. My stomach is covered. You’d think I just had a baby. My hips are disgusting. You can see where my skin was stretched too far.

I really thought I was doing well with all of this. I try not to care. I try not to be superficial. But I’m over 200 pounds now. And Ive never been over 135. And even if I lose the weight, Ill still have these marks all over my body.  Nobody wants to see that. I cant even look at it.

It took me years to become comfortable with my body. The whole time I was growing up I was always very self conscious. I was always really hard on myself. But I came to a point where I honestly became comfortable with myself, and actually came to like all the things about myself that I used to hate. My pale skin, and big butt. Freckles. I liked them. I liked the weight I was at.

And then all this shit. Even when my knees became permanently bent I was still optimistic. I still looked pretty good, right? Maybe I could meet someone who would look past that. I mean, eventually when Im well enough, and some had some insurance I’d be able to start physical therapy. Or eventually I’d be able to get knee replacements. Then people wouldn’t stare at me when I walked. I’d look normal again, and then maybe someone wouldn’t care about all my health issues if it wasn’t so blatantly obvious.

God, sometimes I just think….. I dont know. I just feel like I’ll be this way forever.

Yesterday, my little brother was sitting with me on the porch while I painted and we were chatting. He always cheers me up. Well, my little hooligan of a cousin came up with a couple of his friends. When they walked up onto the porch I heard one of them say “Ugh.” Now of course I have no idea what he was saying that for, but my brother had murder in his eye, and the little kid kept saying “I’m sorry man, I was just kidding. ” When I asked what they were talking about my brother just avoided my eye, and said nothing and changed the subject. My cousin asked him if he’d show his friends a few things on the guitar, and he told them to come tomorrow.  Now I have no reason to believe that the little 13 year old punk was talking about me, but thats where my mind immediately went. And I was sitting in front of this stupid giant mirror, and I could see why someone would say ugh to that. Poofy moon face. Stretch marks out for anyone to see.

I dont want to think about it anymore. Im going to go bury myself in a book, and try try try to get to sleep.  Insomnia is bad enough by itself. Having insomnia while in a funk is worse.