Rheumatoid Arthritis Anger | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Rheumatoid Arthritis Anger

Rheumatoid Arthritis Anger: Cause or effect?

Chicken or the egg? I wasn’t there of course, but I’ve always favored the chicken. I love chicken, especially fried chicken…

Does RA cause anger? It can be managed politely, but there are times I’m definitely angry. At any one moment, I have more pain than many people I know have had in their entire lives. That volume of constant pain can cause anger. The lack of sympathy makes me angry.

Every day, I’m supposed to keep doing things I can’t do. That is aggravating. No one can see the destruction that I feel inside of my joints, but I can still feel it. I’m angry at doctors who say we exaggerate. I’m angry at companies who claim they give us our lives back.

I could go on… harassment of friends over handicapped parking; condescending offers of juice cures from people trying to get our money; rough handling by medical techs; people waiting years to get a diagnosis; insistence that I could do more with more effort. This list could get pretty long – and that’s okay. Feeling angry about these things is a normal and healthy response to a very bad situation.

Blaming the victim with Rheumatoid Arthritis anger

Does anger cause RA? Rheumatoid Arthritis and anger have been studied alongside for many decades. Back in the 1960’s there were claims of a Rheumatoid Personality which we’ve discussed here on the blog since it is still in Arthritis Foundation literature.  The 1970’s favored a more scientific approach and the Rheumatoid Personality was found to be hogwash discredited decisively.

 For some reason, there are those who dig up these theories like skeletons in the RA closet and rattle them around. Perhaps you read the Deepak Chopra comments on Rheumatoid Arthritis, anger, and sexism. However, it’s not just new age gurus who continue this theory twaddle. Sometimes, it’s the church. I’m a Christian myself and I’m ashamed when I see a “Christian” website claim that for “autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis …anger is a major factor.” This writer claims to have learned on WebMD and Google of “studies that prove suppressed anger is a common denominator as the cause of these illnesses.” Funny thing is I went to that same school. I did read those weird notions, but I had enough sense to keep reading on into the next decade of science.

Honestly guys and dolls, I feel like we are in the Middle Ages of this disease. Think of those 1960’s ideas as coming out of the stone ages for RA (and Ankylosing spondylitis and Psoriatic arthritis as well). Think of the advent of the internet as analogous to the invention of the printing press. More and more people can be exposed to the realities of RA.

What if Lance Armstrong were accused of causing his own cancer by his attitude? What if everyone said that Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s disease because he has unforgiveness? What if Lou Gehrig were actually blamed for Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)?  You can’t even imagine it, can you? It’s so absurd.

Link to German study in the year 2000 claiming to once again disprove the old anger and aggression theory about Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

65 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis Anger

  • June 22, 2010 at 10:54 am
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    Years ago I went to a parish mission and met Sister Briege McKenna. She is a Catholic nun who suffered from RA and was in a wheelchair for 3 years. She received a miraculous healing and the gift of healing others at the same time. In her talks she does not ever blame the person suffering the disease or talk about anger or sin causing the disease in the first place. I would love to hear her talk more about her experiences with RA. http://www.sisterbriege.com is her website.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 11:08 am
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    I’m from the south, it’s hard to wrong with fried chicken. I have always been pretty laid back, I don’t get angry about much. But I also understand and have experienced all of what you bring up. I had to laugh when I read that 85%-95% of doctor visits are stress related. Do these people think we are morons who just want sympathy? It’s sometimes frustrating that people don’t understand our disease, but lets be honest, what do I know about Crohn’s Disease or Epilepsy.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 11:44 am
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    This is SO apt. Especially about the doctors who say we exaggerate our claims, all of the “cures” out there, etc. People LOVE labels and fitting us in categories. Anger does NOT cause RA. I wasn’t angry before I got it, and I’m not angry now. Just upset at my limitations.

    Thanks for writing this, Kelly!

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    • June 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm
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      good point. I’m a laid back person about most things too – what about the really angry people I know who are all perfectly healthy? Pretty holey theory. 😀

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  • June 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm
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    This was a timely post for me. I just left the rheumatologist. I like him. I really do. He’s an amazing diagnostician and a good doc. But he doesn’t make the leap between the symptoms and the effect of those symptoms on a life. I’m angry.

    I had to hire a housecleaning service. (Thank God we found a way to afford it!) I can’t clean my own house any more. I’m angry.

    Friends show their true colors. Some let me feel how I need to feel. Others demand that I feel the way they want me to. And I’m angry and grateful all at once. Because at least some of my friends “get it” or at least love me even when they don’t “get it.”

    Angry. You bet. Who wouldn’t be with a disease like this.

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    • June 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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      Sounds like a normal, healthy reaction to me. My house is still dirty, but I finally washed my hair ( 2 wks this time). :chic:

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  • June 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm
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    A lot of people regard illness as a character defect. I cannot control them, only me. By being calm and matter of fact about my RA I both feel better and get better responses from others. Anger is destructive, and sympathy is not something I want.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm
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    This whole post just makes me so sad. I don’t understand why people feel the need to put down others, claim their pain isn’t real, say we are causing our own pain, whatever. How ridiculous. I feel so blessed to have friends and family who are supportive. It’s a blessing.

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    • June 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm
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      I am glad you shared, Erin. I glad for you too Erin. Your family & friends give me hope that others can learn too. Sorry for making you sad. There are many letters and comments I receive from those whose experiences are very different from yours & I actually cry sometimes with the stories I get in the mail. I’ve seen both types of reactions up close.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm
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    Oh my, I think I can guess why It was and sometimes still is blamed on emotions: women + hypochondria= RA, PMS, etc. Anything that the experts couldn’t comprehend, and largely affected women, must be emotions. I surely get angry, but we can put that energy to work as you do Kelly; educating, spreading awareness and supporting each other.

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    • June 22, 2010 at 9:16 pm
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      Very good point about putting that energy to work. Healthy anger does motivate us to make changes. I keep thinking maybe that is why God allows me to see or experience these things – to motivate me to make a difference. For example: when someone implies I’m faking, it makes me determined to believe patients, etc

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      • June 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm
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        Amen, I have wondered the same thing myself, but enough already, okay God?

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  • June 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm
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    I use to attend a church that always said that our illnesses where caused by curses in the family…they would call it ‘genarational curses” i never believed it..it was just a little creepy!!on and on it went…they would even tell you what kind of “sin” would give you this or that diease…needless to say i dont attend that place anymore…but i’m sure people buy into that kind of thing..its sad..and makes it even harder to fight.

    Kim

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    • June 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm
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      Yes, I know about those theories Kim. Not to argue w/ anyone’s religion, but when it’s hurtful & there’s proof it’s wrong, it’s hard to agree. I do just let it go when others say it to me personally, but here on the blog – it’s my megaphone. LOL. Those errors can be hurtful; I have a friend who was taught those things & it hurt her & was not helpful. It was also hurtful to hear from close people that this is my own fault.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm
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    Ah, how about, “your spirit is broken”…. damaged for the lack of faith. Puleez…. I believe in God and believe me you I will have a folder filled with questions for him. That is not to say I will disrespect the almighty, oh no. I would just love to know why so called christians have the authority to question a disease(s) I have when I did nothing to bring it on. How many of you were type A personalities before you got sick? Ah-ha.. just what I thought ~ what 99% of us? It has nothing to do with faith, my attitude or any drugs or drink I did or didn’t do. It’s genetics. So either put me back in the only safe place a baby has or deal with it!! I get angry, I’m not angry. I get sad, I’m not depressed. I get happy, I’m not manic. I have ideas, I’m not a knowitall. So on. I have a disease!

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    • June 23, 2010 at 12:05 am
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      Interesting point Tazzy. I feel like those who said those things might not do it w/ any “authority.” Just because someone says an idea is Christian doesn’t make it so. If it’s a wrong idea, I’ll bet God doesn’t like it either. Just guessing. I’ll ask about that in heaven. But that helps me let it go.

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  • June 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm
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    I believe that stress can help trigger many illnesses, particularly if there is a genetic predisposition to begin with. Anger can be a reaction to stress. Also, I suppose, anger could become a stressor, especially if it is allowed to simmer long-term. Maybe this would be one way anger can be linked to illness–mediated or moderated (I’m not sure which) by stress. …if that makes any sense… 🙂

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    • June 23, 2010 at 12:15 am
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      Yes, it does. I think that was established with heart disease back when I went to school – but I’m not up on current studies so I don’t know if they still teach that.

      Doesn’t make sense to me with RA – since I hear of so many babies affected. My own example doesn’t fit or many others I know. Yes, we are all sinful, but not “brooding” the way it sounds in the old Rhem. Personality theory.

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      • June 23, 2010 at 10:01 am
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        There are usually many pathways that lead to an outcome. Perhaps the stress/genetic predisposition theory is one of the pathways that lead to RA. You certainly can’t generalize one cause to everyone with RA. Apparently it’s very complex, because they haven’t figured it out yet! Aaargh!

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        • January 22, 2011 at 3:30 am
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          Hi Barbara,

          I agree that stress can trigger flares in RA, I’ve seen it in my own case. I worked full time in one organisation where I thoroughly enjoyed my co-workers, while working to tight deadlines, doing creative work and dealing with a range of other potential ‘stressors’ but I didn’t feel stressed because the work environment was essentially positive (actually downright fun!) When I left to work part time with a different organisation, doing the same type of work with similar ‘stressors’ my RA flared to the point I was forced to give up work. The difference was the work environment, the second place was positively toxic and I reacted to it accordingly.

          The same thing happened with my two pregnancies, the first I worked for a government bureaucracy with a very negative environment, my blood pressure was very high until I was told by my doctor to stop work. The second pregnancy, I was self employed, working on big budget projects and meeting tight deadlines, but had a pleasant work environment – no problem with blood pressure at all and worked right up to baby’s arrival (and started back with baby in tow very soon after!)

          Should also note that RA was diagnosed between babies, so the second one was a case of going off all meds prior to pregnancy. Luckily I had no RA pain during pregnancy. (I was told that this could be due to large quantities of cortisone women produce naturally during pregnancy).

          Anyway bit off topic – What I do know is that for me – stress does play a big part in RA flare-ups, and I agree with you that this could have been extrapolated by some to mean anger. But, I don’t think the anger/stress caused the RA to start with, (especially given that I was 12 when I contracted the virus that is supposed to have caused my Juvenile RA).

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  • June 23, 2010 at 12:59 am
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    Hi everyone.

    I have always been rather high strung. I also work for an attorney, which doesn’t help the stress level. Lately I struggle with anger and sadness – both aimed at myself for not being able to do what I used to do.

    Also, I guess I’m a little opposite of the posts here with respect to churchy stuff. A lady at the church I attend (and who I don’t really know) came up to me and asked “how are you feeling?” “What’s your pain level today?” “I know what it’s like to be in constant pain”. Although I appreciated her concern, she was quite forceful in wanting me to talk to her about it, and it scared me off. I felt embarassed and emotionally naked, and I wanted to hide. I don’t like talking about my pain, but now that my doc has me using a cane, people are noticing, and it’s getting more difficult to want to go. Yuck.

    Oh, and Kelly: Yay for hair washes!!

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    • June 23, 2010 at 1:21 am
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      I do not talk about myself or my RA or pain either, Lisa. We did discuss this “embarrasment” thing a couple months ago here – link.

      Here’s a blog I wrote about what it’s like for me at church – link. Were you shocked when she asked you that? I sure would be if someone asked me about that! Only my daughter asks me that.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 3:37 am
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    I’m angry…very angry. You can go on Kelly, please do. I want to hear it all because I’m angry at most of what you mentioned also. As a man, I’m angry at myself for not being able to do macho things that I used to be able to do. Which also means that I don’t have the confidence and ability to date (many other reasons I cannot date also). Which brings me to what I’ve lost: I think b/c it’s not been long since I’ve lost these things, I’m experiencing the anger of losing them, now the most. I’ve lost my job, and my ability to provide for myself (or a family I might have had one day), so I’ve lost the family I never had at 30 years old. I’ve lost the ability to take care of my dog (walk him, pay for surgery/care etc.) I’ve lost soo much, I could go on, but no one really cares, they just go on about their lives, but that’s OK…what’s not OK is that they expect ME to just go about my life. I’ve applied for disability and have been denied, as if I like being on a few hundred dollar a month budget, or even asking for help period. OK, I’m done ranting. Thank you once again for writing pretty much exactly what I feel, and making me feel as if I’m not alone.

    Michael

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    • June 23, 2010 at 9:34 am
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      Michael, I’m sorry for what you have lost. I hope you can get some of it back. Hopefully a treatment will help eventually. I’ve always been taught that expressing those feelings is better than denying them so I’m glad you could vent. I really miss my dog – don’t know if you’ve read that blog – but I can’t get a new dog for the same reason as you – I can’t take care of one.

      I don’t know if anyone who does not have RA could understand what you meant about feeling like no one cares & life goes on, expecting the same from you, etc. But it sounds exactly like what I experience. Some do tell me that they receive more understanding, so I will keep hope for all of us. Same goes for the disability.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 3:40 am
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    Btw, the anger causation theory is a bunch of bull. I was the most laid back, not-angry human being that ever existed…BEFORE RA

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    • January 22, 2011 at 3:50 am
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      Hi Michael,

      I know where you’re coming from – I mourn my losses, I used to play guitar – and I’ve watched it disappear with so many other things I used to be able to do. Badminton, anything with a racquet, even handwriting is becoming a chore (and I’ve got 7 exams to do this year – I’m studying!). I’m also a graphic designer, but can’t do that anymore (notice I haven’t given up on that completely I didn’t say ‘I was a graphic designer’!).

      The trick is to replace the things you can’t do with things you can do.

      I can’t use the computer graphics software anymore – but I’ve discovered that I’m rather good at Tax and accounting. It feels a bit sad to go from creative to accounting, but what can I say, I’m enjoying it! (mainly because I can do it and I’ve achieved something!) Plus i can do it on my own terms – online, from home wearing my pink pyjamas and my blue bed socks with purple polka dots! (seriously – I have them on now).

      I think it’s important to stop your world from closing in too much – I have a tendancy toward being a bit of a hermit, so I try to resist that, but on my own terms.

      I can’t peel potatoes any more – so I learned to cook them with their skin on – turns out it’s healthier – who knew!

      I don’t want to sound too ‘pollyanna’ as my husband puts it, but I’m having a flare-up kind of week yet still feeling positive – so I’m paying it forward.

      Hope you find a few replacements for your losses – keep looking they’re out there.

      Cheers

      Tracey.

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      • January 23, 2011 at 1:42 am
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        Thanks, Tracey! Good attitude. Things are actually much better since I wrote that, but I think I still needed to hear that!

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  • June 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm
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    Good post Kelly. I get angry because of what I have lost too. I want to be able to do the “normal” things I used to without pain and being wiped out after. Angry and sad at this evil disease.

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    • June 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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      I can deal w/ the loss. I wish we could just get the help that’s appropriate without the unnecessary grief.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 9:10 pm
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    Kelly – Thank you for another great post! I am an RA newbie relative to many. My RA started about 9 months ago. Most of my anger stems from the diagnostic process, which I feel failed me terribly for many months. I am also seronegative, so I can’t really have RA, right? There couldn’t possibly be anything systemically wrong with me, could there? The blood tests show that I am “healthy”. The pain tells a different story. I was angry about undergoing one invasive test after another, and hearing “we found nothing wrong” each time I received a call from the various specialists who I visited. I was angry at the ER doc that suggested I was wasting his time by coming into his ER. This was prediagnosis, and at the time I couldn’t walk (hips), eat or sleep. I am not sure about you, but to me that constitutes an emergency! I was angry about the suggestions that it must all be from stress, hormones, etc., and that if I just went to a yoga class or two, things would improve for me. I am a lifelong fitness fanatic, a vegetarian, and I have even taken a yoga teacher training course! I knew all along that my pain was not normal and that no “yoga class” could “cure me”. Anyway, I am no longer angry, but I am still very frustrated with the fact that I am seronegative. I honestly feel that this added an extra level of complication to an already frustrating process. I feel that I have to work harder to “justify” my RA.

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    • June 23, 2010 at 10:24 pm
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      Marie, hope it helps to know you aren’t the only one. Sorry someone made you feel like you have to “justify” your RA. That’s awful 🙁 Don’t ya want to say, “we need better tests, not better patients”?

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  • July 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm
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    Yes, I have unexplained anger when least expected; however, all my physicians would rather say that I have a bipolar condition as an off shoot of my many mini-T.I.A’s. I don’t think so. I know after years of COPD, T.I.A. and brain disfunction – the difference between each. I accept that each physician is ‘centered’ in their specialty. Between RA and PA, I can get unsettled ‘without much notice’ and have become isolated from the world with the exception of 20 telephone friends around the world that I have know 20 to 50 years. They remembered me ‘when’ I was a great national instructor and speaker. With the rest of the acquaintances – they have ‘run not walked’ away from me over the last 6 years; some even as far back as 11 years ago. It is lonely; however, my educate helps me understand ‘the fear of people to be around’ anyone they think is not as perfect as themselves. So, when your anger comes up don’t be on the computer and don’t answer the phone. Things I wished I had learned earlier. Thom, Fort Myers, FL

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    • July 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm
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      Thom, thanks for putting your thoughts down. It’s helpful to hear your experience. Are you able to talk with anyone who is “safe” when you feel angry? I’m sure you find it valuable when you can be “heard” at times. Situation isn’t fixed though, I know.

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  • September 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm
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    I can relate to the anger now, after having RA for 3 years (diagnosed, I had it longer than that, I now realize). I wasn’t/am not an angry person by design lol. Today the anger is full blown and extreme. I drove about 300 miles (round trip) yesterday to spend a wonderful day with my daughter in her college town. We went to lunch, drove around exploring, walked about 8 blocks, had coffee etc. It was an absolutely amazing day. Starting last night when I went to bed, the ramifications set in. The hip extreme hip/knee/foot pain (from driving, riding, walking) that kept me awake and crying for several hours before I finally passed out. Today the same, coupled with shoulder pain, extremely swollen hands and a wrist that won’t bend. I am angry today. It’s not very often that I get to have a good day out and about, and the fact that I have to pay for it with anguish and tears makes me CRAZY!!! I am so angry today!! I am hurting so bad, and the anger I’m sure doesn’t help, but I can’t control it. So I guess I will do what I always do and go to bed. Maybe I will sleep and wake feeling better (hahahaha). I won’t tell my kid about this as she will feel bad, that maybe she pushed me too hard, she didn’t push at all, in fact kept asking “are you ok Mamma?”. I just wanna cry! It’s amazing, I thought maybe after 3 years of tears, the ducts would dry up, but I cannot hold a conversation anymore without breaking down. No wonder I only talk to my cats anymore. I am so lonely, but most of the time I think it’s better that I am alone now. Who the hell would want me?

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    • September 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm
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      Dear Erinne, I can’t pretend I know for sure, but I think I know something similar. It is so unfair & it can feel like you are being cheated. Most of the time, I just miss out on what they are doing. Other times, like you say, we pay a high price to try to be a part of it. I’m sorry it’s this way right now. There’s no advice or counsel that fixes it. I hope someday you can share more with your daughter – I have 2 daughters that age – and they want me to tell them more. It sounds like your dearheart may be able to handle it when you think its time.

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  • October 21, 2010 at 12:20 am
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    I AM ANGRY!!! This has been a horrible week. So much pain, swelling, being alone constantly, feeling ineffectual, useless. I haven’t a dime to scratch my ass with, my daughter is going through some problems at college (financial and study-wise) and I am unable to help her. I sit in my fkn apartment day in and day out, hurting. I can’t sleep cuz it hurts too much to lay down. Random, sharp pains running all through my body. Went to see my PCP and was told I am not allowed to see him cuz I don’t have the $50 copay (no insurance here). I have been a patient of his for 24 damned years, but money is so important!!! My little $50 is going to break this multi million dollar hospital system! I am angry angry angry! I HATE this fkn disease. I HATE my life. I want to just lose it and scream and cry and break things!!!
    Thanks for allowing me to vent Kelly. Guess I will go cry for awhile, maybe then I will be able to sleep. Doubt it.

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    • October 21, 2010 at 10:14 am
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      Sounds like a week that was worth a cry, Raini. I hope things look up for you. :heart:

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  • October 21, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    Thank you Kelly. I appreciate you 🙂

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  • October 27, 2010 at 9:01 am
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    There are a lot of things about RA that make me angry. I think that the misguided need for some people and “professionals” to find a way to make it our fault that we have this disease one of the major things that makes me mad.
    Oh, and this quote from the Christian website makes me see red:
    “I have seen many people healed of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, chronic back pain, and much more. I have personally been healed from chronic fatigue syndrome, hypoglycemia, severe insomnia, allergies, and neck and back pain—just from living a life of forgiveness.”

    I call shenanagins. Sometimes crap just happens to people. And saying that you can be cured of these diseases simply from living a life of forgiveness is downright irresponsible and misinformed. Grrrr.

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    • October 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm
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      why do they? (“need to make it our fault”) At least I can smile & feel understood as I read your comment. Nice feeling.

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  • October 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm
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    Once again Kelly another timely post. We’re on the same wavelength again. I am not despondent or clinically depressed, rather I am pissed as all Hell at RA for taking my career, which included international travel, my high income, and my friends and what the disease insidiously gives back is unrelenting pain and misunderstandings. But I no longer blame myself and I stand up to doctors and uninformed others would like to make having RA all my fault. Every member of my family on my Mother’s side has severe RA. My mom is in wheel-chair and nursing home at 70 years old. I miss my life the way it used to be. Some days now I just wake up mad. But mostly I don’t because there are warriors like you who indeed do understand.

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    • October 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm
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      Better to at least be mad & admit it, express it, maybe even use the energy to bring change, right? Besides, I know you & you are usually quite the cheerleader. Have a mad day once in a while if it helps. :heart:

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  • October 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm
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    You know, it seems like they are basically saying RA is almost psychosymatic. Like we are imaging what is happening.

    I get angry at my body more than I get angry at others at the moment. Most of the people I associate with understand where I’m coming from.

    And to say that anger, an emotion, can cause our antibodies to spawn minds of their own and attack us, is rediculous.

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    • October 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm
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      Kat – this is still actually part of the literature & theories on RA by some professionals. It is fairy tale stuff & I’ll do all I can to tear up these myths. I know no more expressive, optimistic & strong folks than the RA’ers I know.

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  • October 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm
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    Somehow our culture does not want to accept that people get sick because our bodies are not perfect. People are not to blame. If society can blame the person, then it does not have to take responsibility for caring for them. How sad the extent our culture is willing to go so it does not have to reach out and take care of the weak amongst us.

    If Christians buy into this line of thinking, then the Church misses opportunities for ministry. The weak, poor, sick, lonely, and neglected are Christ among us waiting for us to reach out to them. Let’s not do what the world does more and more–blame the victim. Let’s recognize those who need us and serve them with love.

    Maybe, the first way to serve is by listening to their story and accepting how they feel about their situation. Validation, for a person with a disability, is a gift of love.

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  • January 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm
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    Ecclesiastes 3 still remains one of my favorite verses, and reading all comments above and knowing my condition is like a mirror image of others lives and pain and yet we persevere, and share. We are blessed by Kelly’s tenacity to have a place of information, to allow us to connect and vent, to care and for me a daily reminder that each day I thank God for giving me-me, and for His guidence in having others willing to share the burden of pain we are faced with in our daily lives.

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  • January 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm
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    Hi Kelly and everyone,

    I recently had a rather unusual conversation with a local disability support officer her in Australia. As a government employee her role is to deal with people with disabilities and those who require government support due to these disabilities. During the conversation she told me that she too had RA, but that through the power of prayer she had been able to stop taking her medication (methotrexate) and stop feeling any pain – she got her life back. (sounds like a remission to me!)

    Obviously it was a truly inspiring story except for the follow on, that went along the lines that if I prayed and believed, I too could go get rid of my RA. I just didn’t believe in myself enough!

    It took a while for all this to sink in but I finally felt angry that I was being judged by another RA sufferer in such a way and one who was supposed to be an impartial government representative. We all deal with it as best we can. Now I have no faith in the local disability support office and I feel it best, when dealing with the disability support office, to use the automated phone system to avoid the judgmental attitude should it arise.

    Why is it that people feel the need to push their own solutions and opinions onto others? I’m sure it’s well intended, but it doesn’t always come across very well.

    Reply
    • January 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm
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      Tracey, I suppose you’re right and she meant well. I hope you get what you need as far as disability as soon as possible. I don’t know why some prayers are answered “yes” and some are answered, “not right now.” But I’m confident God loves you and is concerned with you. And that you did nothing to cause or deserve RA. That much I’m sure about.

      I also wish those who got those rare remissions would not assume that we would all have them too “If only…” we’d do as they say… Second one I heard today. Sigh.

      Reply
  • January 21, 2011 at 8:53 am
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    Hi Kelly & everyone! I just wanted to say that I wholeheartedly agree with what you have all been saying about the ‘anger theory’. I have always been a very noticeably calm and laidback person and can’t really understand where that line of thinking is coming from at all. I think that because of my laid back attitude I have actually let myself be fobbed off on various occaisions by doctors. I have been having symptoms of RAfor almost 3 yrs now but hv only been diagnosed in the last couple of months. Responses from doctors hv varied from – ‘all women sleep with their hands screwed up’ when I mentioned during an exam for swelling and pain in my knee that I also had a lot of pain in my hands in themorning and would often wake in the night with my hands in spasm; to ‘just ignore the blurred vision in your left eye and it might go away’ from an opthamologist yesterday!! I hv had the blurring for 3 yrs now – I don’t sit and constantly think about that eye! What does he think I am doing? Honestly! I am just amazed that even after diagnosis he can still treat me as if I am making this up! I wonder what possible benefit the doctors think we get from going in to ‘complain’ of symptoms? I can think of better things to be doing with my time as I’m sure can you guys. Anyway, I’m sorry think I may be going off topic and having a bit of an angry rant. I just want to say that you really do an amazing job with your blog and forums. It makes a massive difference to know that there is a community out there of people that really do understand, and that we have a great advocate fighting our corner(Kelly!). I for one am planning to use my anger and frustration at this rubbish disease positively. To try and be less laid back in my approach and to stand up and speak the truth about the condition whenever I hear some stuck in the past or belittling theory about it…

    Reply
    • January 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm
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      Go Warrior Sandie! I enjoyed reading this Sandie since I’ve been there done that with doctors too! Doing the same thing with my anger – sometimes I call it the “rocket feul”! This stuff like what you say and some parents have commented on today’s blog post – is not acceptable and must change. We’ll be determined enough to make it happen. Thanks. 😀

      Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 8:43 am
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    Oh my goodness, whoever said that anger causes RA must have worked under the direction of Sigmund Freud. When I go to my rheumatoid doctor and see all these people come in with walkers and canes to assist them I highly doubt it was the “anger” in their lives that brought them to this point. Some of these people are the sweetest people I have ever met. I had cancer back in 2000 at the age of 40. Did anger cause my cancer, too? If this rheumatoid does take my life earlier than expected, then perhaps, it will read in my obituary, “She suffered from a life of anger which caused her rheumatoid arthritis” lol. I don’t think so. Thank you for letting me share!

    Reply
    • January 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm
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      right, Suzi. Who would say this to Michael J Fox or a breast cancer patient? I agree that the RA patients I’ve met are the kindest most patient people – for the most part – probably due to living with horrendous pain.

      Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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    Angry, yes I do get angry at times. Not as often as I used to. I’ve learned to process the anger and handle it differently. I also moved to a better climate because of the disease. And so my family is over 500 miles away. Since I’ve had the symptoms since I was 19 and not diagnosed until I was 40 after seeing many docs I did get angry alot. The frustration of not knowing what exactly I was dealing with did not help. In those years I had 4 children and not being able to keep up with them at times or having to hold my baby and scoot down the stairs on my butt cuz I couldn’t walk yeah that did make me angry. Having to crawl to the bathroom again cuz I couldn’t walk. And having a husband who is now deceased think I was faking it to get out of doing things even though I still ran, played tennis, and worked out when I could. That pissed me off! Or the cavalier attitude of the docs and their dispensing of pain meds. Sometimes I would wish that certain ones would have this disease for a day, the worse flare up day. Than they would have a grasp on what they are treating. And not treat you like some addict looking for a fix! I was in the medical field for years and I do know that they treated many patients the same way I was not unusual. That in it self made me very angry. I take very few allopathic meds so when I do ask for something a red light should go on but does it NO! They all of a sudden want to send me to a pain clinic. I don’t have the kind of pain that I feel warrants a pain clinic. And when I need one I will ask for it. I get very angry because to get any thing across to my doc or her PA I have to be very adament about the situation. I have learned over the years both with my disease and with my medical training how to handle the flare-ups and other problems by myself. I’m not a patient who calls my doc for every little thing to complain about. Maybe it’s because I remember having those kind of pts myself and how they were perceived as crack pots. And I certainly don’t want that on my chart. So it’s a catch 22 you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. It really makes me angry that we are all lumped into one bunch and they don’t see us as individuals with different needs, different levels of pain tolerance, and progression of joint deterioration. I’ve had a few good docs they were the ones who had some sort of autoimmune dx themselves. I’ve had people actually say to me that they have never seen me in any distress do to the RA. They think it’s not real . My answer to them is I have good days and bad days. And after all these years I’ve learned to hide it well. I guess they aren’t perceptive enough to see the swelling of my fingers and wrists or when I’m limping,and moving slower than normal. So now I handle my anger differently,I’ve found that the things I do now work for me and diffuse the anger a little but not much! But that’s what keeps me going the anger and to prove others wrong about this disease.Thanks.

    Reply
    • January 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm
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      Patrice, you make many important points here and I hope your words are read by many. There is much reason to be angry but like you, I try to channel it into changing things ofr the future of RA. On behalf of our children and grandchildren – so when these bad things still happen, I call it my “rocket fuel” to keep me going!

      Reply
  • March 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm
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    It’s sad to know that other people are going through the same things but yet comforting too. People and family say that same stuff to me, “if you weren’t under so much stress” “if you just let things go” If, if,if, if I just had a dollar for every if I would be shopping. I wish that people knew how wrong they are and that they are hurting not only me but my husband who feels guilty for being laid off work adding to my stress and my kids who don’t even ask for help with things to not add to my stress. I know that I didn’t cause this disease and I know that stress doesn’t help either. I just hope that someday people stop and think before the speak and realize that we are all in this together. This has been an eye opening experience for my entire family and we now look at the world and people a lot differently because of it, not that we were uncompassionate people before not we are just more aware of others and their situations. Great article and advice from everyone.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2011 at 6:03 am
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    Learning to process anger without increasing harm to ones own body & mind by what one thinks of oneself, mindless chatter-boxes that have ‘know-it-all attitudes’ or ‘well meaning’ along with many physicians who practice medicine without ever getting good at it; may take years of review (connecting-the-dots) to achieve harmony within oneself. The pain is real when it arrives as an unwelcome visitor; however, expecting others to understand is ‘too draining’. I have gotten more soft spoken yet bolder with people and physicians after reading insightful experiences and research. I simply ask both groups “how long have you been practicing medicine?” then quickly get away from the negativity. If a ‘know-it-all’ is in my home I announce I need my nap now that they will need to come back ‘sometime’. If they are calling and will not ‘shut up’, “I need to go to the bathroom right now and will call you back (sometime)”. Get away from negative people (who think they are positive)politely but firmly with your need of peace of mind.

    Reply
  • November 15, 2015 at 5:21 am
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    I’m 24 years old. i have RA at initial stage.its been a year to have this disease. i go through so many painful days and nights as well.Due to my medicines i have got bit relief from pain but i noticed some changings in my behaviour with my loved ones.with taking medicines i don’t get so much pain but still something wrong with me like whenever i didn’t get much pain still i get stressed,lazy,tired and Angry with no reason. if one time i feel happy or in funny mood then in sudden other time i start getting angry with no reason on small things even if i don’t have my any joint pain. after realising my anger without any reason on my loved ones i felt guilty and start crying and do many question tik on my mind like why i’m doing that, its not me , i wasn’t like that before,whats wrong with me ? sometimes i feel like someone is in my body and messing the things and making me angery 🙁 i tried my best to control my anger but everytime i loose it and can’t help to keep myself calm.I really don’t understand why this happens to me. Is RA effects on my mood and make me angery or someother reason? i need help to know what is going on with me. please do rply…

    Reply
  • January 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm
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    When I first got my diagnosis I went to a local studio for my first yoga class. When I explained why I was there I was told by the instructor that Bikram believes that arthritis is a “disease of laziness.” I was furious- as a college athlete, Park Ranger who could out hike men half my age

    Reply
    • January 18, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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      Heather, many do seem to believe we have a “disease of laziness” and that’s just one of the ways they blame the victim with rheumatoid. There are people making money off of saying we eat bad, have too much pent-up emotion, and just can process pain correctly.
      Like you, I was a very tough cookie.
      My thought is sometimes that the only cure to their nonsense would be to have rheumatoid disease for just a day. Here’s a really old post about that http://www.rawarrior.com/the-rheumatoid-arthritis-curriculum/

      Reply
  • January 18, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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    Oops what happened?
    …I explained and said I beg to differ, left and opted for another type of yoga. Currently I am doing warm water yoga and aerobics for strength, flexibility, and yes to work out any frustration and anger I have in dealing with “normies” who suggest I read metaphysical books to cure myself

    Reply
  • January 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm
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    I’m 56 years old, and finally, after over 15 years of pain and being told I was perfectly healthy, according to tests, so I must have obviously been exaggerating my symptoms, I was diagnosed with RA this week. It took 4 emergency room visits in 3 months to finally get someone to believe me. Just started on methotrexate and folic acid, so don’t know yet how that is going to work for me, but have been on prednisone for 3 months, and already trying to get off that is causing problems. It seems like all I can think about anymore is what I can and can’t do. My pain is less, but always there, and tonight, for the first time, I practically exploded all over my 12-year old daughter over how she was eating her dinner. She has been so helpful and patient with me, and I lose it over something stupid. Now I can’t quit crying. Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? I’m so glad to have found your site. I’m hoping to gain a lot of insight on how to live with this (the pain and the side effects of meds), but mostly I’m glad to know I’m not flat out crazy!

    Reply

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