Friday, April 1, 2011

My deep Dark Side...yeah, I do have one...

I know that I have been preaching about looking on the bright side and keeping the sunny side up.  But, there is a dark side to me that I feel the need to reveal- a dark side I struggle with now more then ever.  Maybe you can relate to this, maybe not, but my dark side is my insecurity with the way that I look.  There, I said it!
On one hand, I can rationalize that I've been much less active, I have had my RA symptoms for almost 3 years now-and not under control yet, might I add.  I can also tell you that the medications I am taking are not helping with my weight, especially the prednisone.  I can say, "hey, it's ok, you've been through a lot.  You are a still beautiful.  Your husband loves you and desires you.  It's ok."  I can rationalize it until I am blue in the face, and after all the rationalizing, pep talking and reassurances, I still catch glimpses of myself in the mirror or in a picture and think, "who is that person staring back at me?"  Have you had those moments?

Sometimes I wish we lived in a world in which we all wore blinders.  I often wonder what would happen if I could no longer see, God forbid.  I certainly wouldn't be able to compare myself to anyone else, now would I?  Would it even matter?  Oh yes, I would still be able to hear what people say...darn.  Do we live in a society that is so shallow that the stress of my illness is compounded by the anxiety of my vanity? 

Vanity:  noun
1.  excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit
2.  lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness:
3.  something worthless, trivial, or pointless

Pride:  noun

1.  a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
2.  a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem

There is a fine between vanity and pride, and apparently I skate it.  See, I've been on both sides of the fence.  I have been the overweight person.  The person who put on a few extra pounds in college and had to burn them off.  Or the person who gained a little too much weight with her pregnancy, and had to start working out a little harder to get rid of it.  I have had people make comments about my weight (ie:  you have such a pretty face- fatso- why can't you be like my friend's girlfriends?).  I have been made to feel like less of a person as a result of it.
I have also been the the fit person, in the best shape of my life (until my illness of course).  I still have had people make comments about my weight (ie:  wow, you look so much better- I can't believe how much weight you've lost- what have you been doing to yourself- if you lose anymore weight you will disappear).  I can tell you that I still felt like less of a person as a result of it.  Some of you might be thinking-oh yeah, come on...really?  Yes, really!  I resented the comments.  I resented the focus on my body and outer looks.  I resented the feeling that that is all there was to me. 
I will openly reveal in my blog that I have put on weight since this journey began 3 years ago.  The "bulk" of it (no pun intended) seemed to have occurred after my Prednisone, Methotrexate, Humira mixture, which has been rather recent.  Imagine how I must be feeling now, after people made such an emphasis on how "great" I looked, how much better I was looking, the "wows" I got.  I don't get "wows" now, unless it's behind my back, I am sure!!  :)  Point is, why does someone's physical features have to the thing people talk about and focus on?  Whether I am 30 lbs. lighter or heavier, doesn't change the fact that I have a phenomenal mind, the largest humanitarian heart, and a kind and loving spirit.  So why, as a whole, do must people struggle to see beyond the shell?  If my RA progresses and my body becomes deformed, will these same people no longer find even an ounce of beauty left in me?
This is my dark side, my struggle,  my fear.  This is  my weakness that I so desperately try to hide from my fragile 10 year old daughter.  This dark side of me has moved me to seek the only Truth and Light that will set me free from the bondage of this LIE. 
Heavenly Father, I come to you broken, vulnerable, imperfect, yet perfectly made by you.  I give up to you my dark side, this weakness that I, and I am sure many of my fellow brothers and sisters, struggle with everyday.  Help us to find the Truth and Light through you.  You are the Way, the Truth and the Light!!  Amen!
Praying for MORE Sunny Side Ups!! 


  1. Sue thank you for allowing us to share in your journey of this debilitating disease. Until recently, no one was willing to identify with having RA unless they were elderly, and then people sympathized. Being young in your prime of raising a family and making a home... no one could or just wouldn't believe you. I have been told that wasn't anything wrong with me and to just wait until I get to be their age! The more of us that tell our battles as you have the more other will come to see just how serious this ailment is! Again I thank you and God Bless you, I will keep you in my prayers.

    A Fellow RA sufferer,
    Faye Peters

  2. Sue,
    First, I must apologize - I was one of those people making comments on how much weight you had lost. I hope you'll forgive me. I did not love you any more or any less, according to your weight, but still...

    I do understand (and agree with) your desire for all of us to have blinders on, since, whether we like it or not, our society is extremely geared towards appearances. For example, can't we as teachers easily be more attracted to the "cute" kids, no matter how they behave? Or to excuse their behavior because they're so cute?? Whereas the plain (or unkempt or awkward) children don't seem to have that "cushion" built in. (Maybe I'm the only one who has to fight this tendency?)

    Our hope is in the words from God:
    1 Samuel 16:7
    But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

    MY focus must be on MY true heart, the part that God alone can see - Loving God, pleasing Him, honoring Him - and then I will have more of the right outlook on others, and THEIR hearts.

    Thanks for being a blessing!!
    Love you!

  3. AMEN Elaine!!! I'm glad I have been blessed with a bride who has a very beautiful heart!

  4. Great blog. Growing up in a mostly obese family, I was always the skinny one, thanks to my RA. I had no appetite and basically didn't eat. Weight was never too much of an issue for me - a few years ago I lost 20 lbs. and looked and felt great. Maintained it for a long time, then menopause hit. That 20 lbs is back and it's not budging for nothin'. Part of me obsesses over it and is embarrassed to go out in public. The other part scolds the first part for caring so much, I should be grateful for feeling relatively well, have a hubby who loves me, nobody really notices my muffin top except me, etc.

  5. Remember one thing,,,please? Whatever the war of RA loves having on your system, your stronger than it ever will be. You just proved it. Your ability to tell it like it is shows how much strength and beauty you have. God bless you. Keep up with the dark side commentary. It helped me more than you know. It has been 17 years of dark sided moments for me.

  6. Thank God someone has bought to attention the connection between RA and weight. I never used to be such insecure person but over the last 10 years this has changed. My RA has definitely contributed to my weight steadily increasing not only from the drugs, the steroid injections but also mainly from the relentless fatigue associated with the disease. I am still working, have a family, run a house - with PAIN - so where the hell am I to get the ENERGY to exercise as well!! I feel that some people have just labelled me lazy and there are days I feel like wearing a sign on my body stating my medical conditions that may contribute to me looking the way I am. Not only do I have RA but having my thyroid removed (due to another autoimmune disease) and a disc rupturing in my back (causing permanent and painful spinal nerve damage) all contribute to making me 'lazy'. Also because most of the population think that RA is what 'everyone that ages has???' there is no compassion from alot of people who make you feel like a hyperchonriac for mentioning your pain.

    Thanks so much for sharing your blog and helping the rest of us RA sufferers feel they are not alone.


  7. Andrea K. Lewinsky-RiebeApril 2, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Thanks for talking about your "dark side", I used to think I was going nuts before I got diagnosed with RA. I went from a size 6 to 12, now down to size 10 (most days). It was a tough thing to face. It took me 2 years to clean out my closet of the too small clothes. I'm not saying I was or am fat, but the weight gain was a tough thing to face. I have decided to get a puppy this summer to get me up & moving around much more. I teach Jr High & I am @ work & on duty by 7am. I give work my all, so by the time I get home @ 3 or 4pm, I am totally wiped out & sometimes need a nap, then I don't want to move around too much afterwards. So if I get a dog, it will force me to get up, take the dog out, & take the dog for walk, plus great company while the husband works nights. We shall see how this goes...1st a fence, then a puppy! It's gonna be a different kind of summer!!

  8. Great news everyone! You don't have to exercise to lose weight - just monitor what you eat and I guarantee you will lose weight. I started January 3, 2011 and presently I have lost 25 pounds and DID NOT EXERCISE ONE BIT. I have RA and fatigue and pain which does not motivate me one bit to exercise but when I finally decided to make up my mind to lose weight and stuck to it for a few days and then it went to weeks and then months and saw results I was and I'm convinced that you don't have to exercise to lose and look good. Just think "what would it have been like to exercise with the eating change"? I'm pleased although I still have RA and fight the depression, the pain and fatigue (at least I feel good about myself and the way I look). Great thing is "YOU CAN DO IT TOO!" My drugs of choice is Methotrexate and Enbrel. No steroids so I'm sure that helps - perhaps that struggle of steroid use can be reduce with weight lose. So I challenge you to see what you can do!

  9. I hear you. Last year I was painfully thin, due to side-effects of some meds not agreeing with me. Everyone commented on it and said I looked great. This year I'm on different meds and I have been on prednisolone for 4 years, I have put on about 15 kilos, it feels like it is all in my face! It really gets me down. I'm also on embrel. I'm feeling really tired all the time and embarrassed about my appearance. Trying to look on the sunny-side though!:-)

  10. Thanks. So it's not just me. I just can't seem to lose anything beyond 10 pounds. Then I put it back on. I'm pretty active, but then I get fatigued or sick, like today, and here I am sitting in bed. If I don't rest, I'll be sick for much longer. My boyfriend loves me the way I am, but I'm fat. Most of the time I can ignore it, but then I see me in the mirror, or a photo and I realize that as much as I've pushed back, this disease has gotten the best of my body. It's discouraging but I'm glad I read your blog and the comments. I feel like I have a lot of friends here.