I’ve always believed that I could be dropped anywhere on the planet and make it work. I had a skill and talent that could be used anywhere so that’s something I always depended on…until I was diagnosed with RA. I had a great relationship with myself over the years between overcoming my mother’s death at a young age, graduating from hair school and owning/operating a salon by myself for over 12 years. I’m the type of person who likes to feel accomplished.

When I got diagnosed with RA, the relationship I had with myself changed drastically. For a while I ended up punishing myself for not being able to function the way I used to. That did more harm than good. I finally woke up one day and said “something needs to change”.

The only person I’m in competition with, is myself.

First thing I did was started a new routine. I joined a gym. This was one of the best decisions I had made for myself. I was very nervous about going at first because I knew I would have to modify my workouts depending on my body. I had always enjoyed working out but my body has changed quite a bit in the last 7 years but I decided to go for it. I found myself surrounded by all types of people, all types of ages with all types of bodies. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the trainers who teach classes which made me not so nervous. About 5 days a week I pick a class depending on how my body is feeling. The classes are fun, the trainers are encouraging and I’m able to modify my workout according to how I feel.

When the relationship that I had with myself became better, I found that I took better care of myself as a whole.

Working out has been a mental outlet for me. I find I’m a lot easier about how I feel about myself. I’ve found I’ve become proud of myself. This in itself has a chain reaction. I bought things for myself when I have the money like lip gloss, or I’ve got a cute sweater that I think looks good on me. I also started making changes in my diet. I really enjoy smoothies so I’ll have one of those each day. I’ll incorporate strawberries and blueberries with vanilla yogurt and some other goodies. I’d get inspired with different salads to try, or even try to make my own salad dressing.

I get frustrated, but now, I don’t give up.

Yes, all of this stuff takes hard work mentally and physically. Nothing comes easy. Things hurt, I get frustrated, emotional, but now I don’t give up. I have enough respect for myself that I listen to my body and make arrangements needed for that day. All of this is quite a big step for me. I have beat myself up for many years because of this illness, but the more I started changing the way I did things, my routine, how I viewed myself my relationship with myself became stronger.

Don’t let your illness define who you are.

You only get one life. This illness that has taken over your body is not your fault. Everyone grieves so to in other words, when life changes drastically because of an illness, you can make changes that better your life and your belief in yourself. The most important relationship you have in this life is the one you have with yourself. You have to have your own back, regardless of how your body has changed. I love working out, meeting new people, talking about my illness, explaining things to people and not caring how I’m viewed.

My advice:

  • Be proud of who you are. Love who you are.
  • Treat yourself with respect.
  • Get yourself up each morning and keep yourself going during the hard and painful times.
  • Everyday will be easier if you love yourself and are good to yourself.
  • Don’t ever let anyone dictate the way you feel about yourself.
  • Keeping good company around you ensures that you won’t look down upon yourself because you don’t feel well.
  • Love yourself unconditionally and others around you will too.

Relationships are hard work. Having successful ones start with the one you have with yourself. Once that is strong, everything else will fall into place.

Be strong. It’s going to be OK. I tell myself this every morning and you should too.