How Psoriatic Arthritis Affects Relationships
Since my psoriatic arthritis (PsA) diagnosis many years ago, my life has changed in many significant ways–physically, emotionally, and socially. Life with a chronic disease like PsA can make a lot of things harder, and sometimes friendships can fall by the wayside to be replaced by doctor’s appointments and fatigue. But what happens with those lucky few loved ones who choose to stick by your side? Just like our lives change because of PsA, so do theirs. Psoriatic arthritis affects relationships in many ways, both positive and negative.
After living with psoriatic arthritis for a while, it’s easy to look at our relationships negatively. We see those missing from our lives and witness the stress the disease has put on our relationships with those who stayed with us. However, there are some ways in which psoriatic arthritis has changed my relationships for the better.
Surprisingly, living with psoriatic arthritis has brought me and my husband closer in some ways. We have learned to pay better attention to non-verbal cues. He can tell when I’ve had a rough day or if I’m ready to leave a get-together 10 minutes after we’ve gotten there. In addition, I’ve learned to have more sympathy for those around me who struggle as well.
I really believe the whole world could use a little more empathy and understanding. That is one of the things life with PsA has taught me and those around me. My friends have had to learn to be very understanding of last minute changes of plans because of my health. They’ve learned how to be empathetic when I say, “I’m tired today.” They know that me taking a quick nap certainly isn’t going to fix everything, and that I can’t predict how I’ll feel on any given day. Their support helps me feel comfortable and encouraged to take care of myself.
Unfortunately, psoriatic arthritis hasn’t always affected my relationships in a positive way. PsA is a very demanding and misunderstood disease. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention I have lost quite a few friends along this journey, through no fault of either of us. Not every relationship is built to last once the chronic illness bomb hits. Even those who have stuck around have the battle scars to show the lessons we have learned.
Many relationships no longer feel like a 50-50 split. My relationship with my husband has changed dramatically. I’ve had to put my ego aside and allow him to “take care” of me. I’ve had to rely on him in ways I never had to before. There are many days when I don’t feel like an “equal” in the relationship because he has to shoulder more of the daily responsibilities.
Psoriatic arthritis is the ultimate double whammy. Many of us can’t work while simultaneously racking up massive health care bills. This puts an enormous strain on family finances, further affecting our relationships with those closest to us.
For better or for worse, psoriatic arthritis is here to stay. Fortunately, medications and therapies can help make symptoms more manageable, but they’re not a cure. Ultimately, how PsA affects our relationships is up to us to decide. If we choose to focus on the positive, then we will have the tools we need to survive the negative effects of life with this chronic condition.