Mind Over Matter

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I love how I don’t look sick.

I love how none of my clients can tell when I’m struggling physically.

I love how few of my coworkers really know that anything is wrong.  Nope, I can usually make it through my pressure cooker of a day with little to know attention to my rheumatoid arthritis.

My days at work can be daunting.  2 different offices, 5 direct reports, 354 (as of last payroll) indirect reports.  I am the jack of all trades and, it especially feels like when I’m flaring, master of none.  I am part sales manager, part sales rep, part HR rep, part accounting, part investigator.  Full time firefighter.  A receptionist when I have to be.

I’m also the bad guy.

Oh yeah, and I have 6 bosses.  Who all have incredibly urgent questions and issues.  That part is lovely.

But I am quite successfully able to get through the day doing all of these tasks with no questions asked and no attention called to my physical condition.

And then there are the days that you feel like this.

Brutal. It’s hard to watch isn’t it?  But luckily nobody can really tell when I feel this way.

What sticks out to me in that video is at the end, when they are carrying her away, and you can hear her crying “I tried.”

Because when I feel like that physically, I also feel that way emotionally.

I’m trying. I’m trying.  I’m trying. And I’m mentally crawling to the damn line right now.

Days like these are the days when the pressure of work becomes daunting. The fact that you’re flaring…again…after you’d been doing so well…is devastating beyond the level that any failed relationship could ever be.  And this pressure and heartbreak mixes with the pressure of being 31 years old, chronically ill but 99% of the time fully functional, single ie sole provider for myself.  This pressure is also called GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO FLAKE OUT, DIG AS DEEP AS YOU CAN, DON’T SCREW UP BECAUSE YOU CAN’T GET FIRED BECAUSE OF A FLARE BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE AND BE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY SCREWED.

This pressure feels…insurmountable.

Ironically, I’ve done some of my best work during my worst flares because of the very reasons listed above.

I don’t really know how to tell you how I get through those days. Baby steps?  Bribery? I don’t know. I just do.  My mom has always laughed that I come from a long line of incredibly stubborn women.

I remember sitting in my car at some point this summer feeling beyond lousy and feeling incredibly pissed off because a sales rep had the nerve to call me repeatedly to whine about the hot weather.  I rarely lose my temper but I had to get off the phone real quick because I was two breaths away from unloading several months of frustration, anger, and sheer exhaustion on her. Look sweetheart, I’ve been limping, dealing with swollen fingers to the point that I dread handshakes, and feeling flu like symptoms for six weeks. I’m out in it too and guess what…I’M NOT COMPLAINING.  So it would be very wise at this point for you to SHUT. UP. ALREADY.

But good managers do not verbalize things like that. Nope, they just blog them.

I sat there stewing and as I stewed, I was suddenly so tired that everything seemed hazy and I made a deal with myself: try get through this appointment and you can stop at Wendy’s and get a frosty.

The frosty was excellent.

I wrote this post as a participant in IAAM’s 2nd Annual International Autoimmune Arthritis Awareness Scavenger Hunt, currently happening online at their Facebook page.  They are posting 12 Scavenger Hunt items through Sunday, I am posting #2:  Mind Over Matter.

As I talked about in this blog entry, those dealing with Autoimmune Arthritis often have to find the mental strength to overcome our physical challenges, especially as it relates to keeping a positive frame of mind.

In saying this, here is your Scavenger Hunt Task #2: We all find strength in something when we physically feel challenged (whether that is due to Autoimmune Arthritis or not).  Some have a pet, or a piece of memorabilia, perhaps it’s a hot bath?

Your task for Scavenger Hunt item #2 is to obtain an image of what brings YOU mental strength.  To earn points, that can be exchanged at the end of the online game for free Awareness merchandise, please go to IAAM’s Facebook Page and post a picture of this item, then write why it brings you strength.  This Awareness item is to bring YOU awareness that no matter what challenges life hands you, you have the power to find solice and peace.  So you have 6 HOURS to complete this task, log on to the Facebook page and post.  Time’s ticking!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/?act=25924384#!/pages/The-Buckle-Me-Up-International-Autoimmune-Arthritis-Movement-IAAM/124639837561193

*IAAM stands for The International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement, which will soon become the 1st nonprofit in history exclusively benefitting Autoimmune Arthritis.  www.IAAMovement.org

3 responses »

  1. Oh Amanda, I really love you! If that makes me one of a million creepy fans you’re gonna have to get restraining orders on, then so be it! I appreciate your honest struggle sprinkled so generously with hilarity. I laugh out loud (literally, not just abbreviated) during every blog post, and I actually well up, more often than I’d care to admit, when you’re having a hard time. I’ve been following you (only online, I swear!) for the last 6 months, since I got diagnosed with RA just before my 30th bday, and you are a touchstone to reality, and a wealth of knowledge, and, well on my end anyway, a kindred spirit (thank-you Anne of Green Gables for that succinct title!). I’m actually adding you to my prayer list. Gosh, that sounds creepy! I’m sorry for that! But I do love you and want you to succeed in every way and have peace and all of that. So keep it up! And don’t block me, I’m harmless! No really, I’m a stay-at-home mom of 4 living in Vegas, afflicted with an odd sense of humor and mild RA. And I don’t work out nearly as much as you, so I’m sure you could take me. See, another bad joke. I’m gonna stop now.

    Bye,
    Lois

    • Thank you Lois! I really appreciate that! Part of the reason I do this was to find more “kindred spirits” and yes, I was totally obsessed with Anne growing up. :) Hope you’re feeling well and very jealous that you live in Vegas!

  2. I know what you mean about loving that no one knows. I am the legal field and my job is demanding but I manage to do it without anyone knowing how much I struggle. And I know all too well and I feel what you are saying when you wrote this part:
    “I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying. And I’m mentally crawling to the damn line right now.”
    I, too, have done some of my best work when I am flaring. Your mom is right; it takes a lot of stubbornness to go through a life with RA. It also amazes me how naïve healthy people are about their bodies. The things they take for granted…like the ability to get out of bed without pain every morning or to have your best laid plans ruined by a flare.

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