Did you know that before Good Grief there was RA*diant? Yep, that’s right, I had envisioned an entire business dedicated to supporting people with Rheumatoid Arthritis - salves for sore joints, jars of golden milk, pills to pop, teas to drink, resources to support those navigating this awful chronic illness.
While this month brings National Arthritis Awareness Month into focus, it personally marks the nine year anniversary of my diagnosis with RA. I’ll spare you the details of navigating my chronic illness for another time - it’s dark and winding, filled with anguish. But here’s the short version:
At the time, I could barely dress myself or brush my teeth. My entire body was in excruciating pain but if you looked at me you’d never know. On the outside I looked like a normal 29 year old. Well-intentioned people would say things to me like, “but you don’t look sick” or “you’re too young to be that sick”. My entire world was flipped upside down, and as I grappled with what my life would look like going forward, it didn’t help to spend my precious energy deflecting comments that invalidated my experience and left me feeling hurt and alone.
Here’s the moment where I could insert some annoying platitude like “everything happens for a reason” or being grateful for my illness, but I’m not going to do that. It sucked and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It did, however, set me on a path to figuring out how us humans can show up and support one another with more empathy and authenticity. And that is the space in which RA*diant was conceived and Good Grief was eventually born (another long and winding path).
Naturally, our lineup of care packages would not be complete without a few boxes focused on supporting those navigating a chronic illness (where my spoonies at!?). It was super important to me that those dealing with chronic illness feel seen, that their experiences be validated. Because chronic illness is so vast and symptoms run the gamut we tried our best to tackle the big ones: pain, fatigue, headaches and autoimmunity. Navigating an ongoing health crisis can be exhausting and overwhelming and it can come with so many emotions from anger and resentment to grief and depression. If you know someone in this situation, reach out and check in; offer to bring them a meal, schedule a coffee date or send them a care package to let them know you are cheering them on. If you are someone with a chronic illness, I see you and you are a warrior!
Interested in reading a bit more about my journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis? I was recently interviewed by Yoga for Arthritis, one of our favorite resources for arthritis-friendly yoga practices and a treasure trove of related resources.