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When RA Causes FOMO

FOMO: it’s the Fear of Missing Out by Arthritis Ashley

This is often a comorbidity to life with rheumatoid arthritis.

In the past 24 hours alone, I have missed out:

  • I canceled brunch with one of my best friends, Valerie.
  • I skipped out on an early Mother’s Day lunch with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law.
  • I opted out of going to my cousin Samantha’s lacrosse game.
  • I didn’t go to physical therapy.

What makes it difficult is the explaining. If someone has the flu, they have the flu. If they have food poisoning, they have food poisoning. If they break their arm, they break their arm.

Those things are all easy for people to understand.

But with autoimmune illness? Nah, not so straightforward. (Especially if you’re fine one day, and not fine the next … or able to do some things, but not others, and so on.)

In the past couple of days, I’ve dealt with: lower back pain, an ankle flare, a sore wrist, hives, a cough, an allergy attack, a non-migraine headache, a migraine, a mild earache, anxiety, and nonstop nausea from one of my RA medications.

It’s hard to explain all of that to people. It’s hard for me to grasp, so I’m sure it sounds nuts to another person.

Luckily, my family and friends, for the most part, are very understanding when it comes to my health. All I had to do was tell Val that I was feeling “blah” and “under the weather” and she got it. The rest of my family, I explained, hey, I’m not feeling so hot, and they understood.

But it’s always a crap shoot. You never know who is going to be hurt or angry when you have to cancel or reschedule plans. And you also never want to be a “party pooper” or “Debbie Downer.”

FOMO is tough because a part of it is selfish (you having to miss out on something you want to do,) but the other part of it is worrying about upsetting other people (will my friend believe me? will my family be mad? am I hurting anyone? what if they don’t invite me anymore?)

I have tried, after years of “practice” in living with these illnesses, to try to let go of guilt. An essential part of self-care is saying “no.” That doesn’t just go for folks with RA — I think it applies to all people.

Personally, I believe that balance is important, too. Stay mindful of how often you’re saying no, how often you’re overextending yourself, etc. Do what you can, rest when you must. Say no when you need to, but don’t stop saying yes. Don’t always live life from the sidelines; don’t miss out unless you absolutely have to. But if you have to, don’t beat yourself up.

It is what it is.

We all have good days and bad, whether we live with RA or not.

There will be days you call off work, appointments you need to switch, plans you need to back out of, and parties you’ll RSVP no to.

That’s okay. Don’t dwell on it. Rather, focus on looking forward to what’s ahead, and being fully present when you CAN attend, and when you DO say yes!

FOMO stinks. So does RA. But neither one has to ruin your life — or your social life. So don’t let it! 🙂

Love & light,

– Ashley

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