The "Normal World"
Disabling, chronic arthritis is a condition that steals away, limits, and diminishes a person's physical capabilities. In our modern society, where the normal pace of daily living is hurried, a person with physical limitations is destined to struggle. You've likely heard of the distinction between the "have" and the "have-not's" in our society. There is also a distinction between the "can" and the "cannot's".
Consider the average day of a healthy, working parent:
- Wake up early
- Get children ready for school
- Get self ready for work
- Drop children off at school
- Work 8 hours
- Run errands after work
- Hurry home and make dinner
- Engage children in activities
- Clean up the house
For a person with chronic, disabling arthritis each one of the aforementioned responsibilities is difficult. As a regular routine, it is impossible. Bound by pain and limitation, merely managing their own daily life requires:
Assuming responsibility for other people requires even more adjustment, more adaptation, and more assistance.
Dealing With Your Emotions
Being "differently-abled" can shake a person's emotions. The disabled person is forced to combat:
- jealousy and envy
- other emotions
Emotions get stirred by the realization that their world has been forever changed by their chronic condition.
Jealousy And Envy?
Think about it. It's not uncommon for the green-eyed monster to stalk people who have lost the person they used to be because of chronic illness and disability. The object of the envy that emerges can be either an able-bodied person who seems to manage life effortlessly, or, the person they "were" before they became disabled.
The disabled person can be envious of the life they had or the life they think they should have. One of our arthritis community members wrote on our online forum, "It is human nature to want more than we have. In this case it is to do more than we can. I get jealous, green with envy, and downright frustrated and aggravated that I have had to give up things that I assumed I would be able to do until I was old. I have accepted that I have limitations, but there are times that I still 'mourn' the loss of me before rheumatoid arthritis."
A certain amount of envy and jealousy is considered a normal reaction, especially initially. Nothing is wrong with fleeting thoughts of "I wish I could" or "I wish I was" as long as the thoughts are just that -- fleeting. The disabled person who feels envious should not deny that they feel that way. It is important that the envy be dealt with rather than denied and that it not be all-consuming.
The green-eyed monster must ultimately be contained so that the focus returns to what the disabled person "can do" as opposed to what they "cannot do", allowing them to live the best life possible.