I’m at the final part of a severe rheumatoid arthritis flare-up. I only get a few a year, but when they hit it’s simply a matter of surviving from day to day. That sounds ridiculous and overblown, since I at least know that eventually the pain will fade and I’ll be able to get out of bed and not bite back screams. The first few days seem like they should be the worst since they’re the most painful, and always end with a trip to the emergency room. The next few days it hurts less, but you’re so brittle from a lack of sleep and unending pain that you still feel just as miserable. Your family members and friends understand and care, but after half a week of seeing you hobble around the house and crying in the bathroom even they can get worn out by it all. Then comes two days of fatigue so intense that you feel drugged. You want to get up and work and clean and smile, but you find yourself falling asleep at your daughter’s first play, and you have to leave to get back to bed while everyone else celebrates.
Life passes. Then comes the depression. The feeling that you’ll never be right again. The fear that these outbreaks will become more familiar, or worse, never go away. You’re so tired from fighting that you start to listen to all the little lies your brain tells you. The ones that say that you’re a drain on your family. The ones that say that it’s all in your head. The ones that say that if you were stronger or better this wouldn’t be happening to you. The ones that say that there’s a reason why your body is trying to kill you, and that you should just stop all the injections and steroids and drugs and therapies.
Today, as Victor drove me home so I could rest, I told him that sometimes I felt like his life would be easier without me. He paused and said, “It might be easier, but it wouldn’t be better.”
These days are the darkest. But I know they will pass. I know that tomorrow things will seem a little brighter. I know that next week I’ll look back on this post and think, “I should stop listening to my brain when it’s trying to kill me. Why did I even write that post?” And that’s precisely why I’m writing this. Because it’s so easy to forget that I’ve been here before and come out the other side, and perhaps if I have this to read I’ll remember it again next time and it will help me to keep on breathing until the medications take hold and I’m out of the hole again.
Because quitting might be easier, but it wouldn’t be better.