I came across a post on an online support group that posed the question: “Do you think something we ate or something else we did caused our disease?”
I was frustrated by this question. I was even more frustrated by the outpouring of responses that indicated, “Yes, I think it was stress,” or, “Yes, I think it was a vaccine,” or “Yes, I think processed foods caused it.”
My friends, let’s stop blaming ourselves. It is not your fault that you have arthritis. It is not your fault that you wake up aching every day. It is not your fault that you haven’t cured your disease. It is not your fault that sometimes your disease and symptoms seem completely out of your control.
Over the past twenty years that I’ve lived with arthritis, I too have wondered if I did something to cause it. But I have also learned that those thoughts do nothing to help me. They lead me down a path of despair, whereby anything and everything is up for grabs as the explanation for my diseases. To hold myself responsible for causing a disease I hate, a disease that has taken so much, is to assign a self-destructive label that is pure self-deception.
What I do hold myself responsible for is how I respond to my arthritis, how I handle my arthritis, and how I share my arthritis with the world. There are enough people out there who are ready and willing to beat us up and blame us for the diseases we suffer with on a daily basis—let’s not add fuel to their fire.
This post first appeared in July, 2014