Nobody is born perfect or even becomes perfect. Everyone has some flaw or the other. I wouldn’t even call it a flaw, that’s a big word, it could be a limitation. It’s how we work through the limitation that matters. I am not sure whether my life or condition even qualifies to be spoken under this flawesome topic, but yes I have had limitations and I have learnt to overcome them. So I am happy to share my journey and experiences.
2. Give us some idea of your background for starters.
As a young girl I was very active, bubbly and an extrovert, who always wanted to be happy and always dreamt of this world to be a bed of roses. I was a dancer, singer, artist, you name it. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) at the age of 19. RA is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints. The body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly. If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur.
My joints used to pain to the effect that I was unable to even lift a single sheet of A4 paper. Doing my daily chores was becoming difficult, like bathing, dressing, eating etc. All of a sudden I found myself totally disabled and crippled from even taking care of myself. I was unable to walk, sit or stand for long and soon I was limping badly. I was gradually slipping into a depression because no one would understand the kind of pain I was going through. Everyone had great advice for me. Over a period of a few years I tried all kinds of treatment ranging from allopathy, ayurveda, therapeutic yoga, sindha, accupuncture and accupressure to herbal diets and what not. Nothing improved my condition, one by one every joint of mine was getting affected. I was on steroids and pain killers and mild chemotherapy drugs to keep things under control. Life went on but with difficulty. I used to cry it out in the night and wet my pillow with my tears because no one could feel my physical and mental pain. The fun part of me was still wanting to have fun, but now there were limitations. I could not do all that i used to do and had to stop dancing which was a long standing dream of mine.
3. What event/incident turned your life around or was pivotal to you?
I liked a guy in my workplace. I knew he liked me too but I was never going to take the step, my condition always kept me at check. We were good friends. He would always say to me, “What u have is not a killer disease, always be content and happy with what you have. There are many who dont know if they will live another day”. He showed me how to trust God, to have hope and he gave me a life I thought I could never have. I tried to convince him not to enter into wedlock with me, because I feared that I would not be able to lead a family life. But he was a man of faith so he asked me what if I had got this ailment after we were married? His support would not have wavered for me. I had great support from the Church who always prayed for my healing and stood with me in the low times. I remember popping two strong painkillers before walking down the aisle. Because it was like a dream come true, I did not see any decoration or the guests in front of me. My heart was filled with Gods promise and hope for a good life.
I started pursuing all my passions once again, painting, crafting, dancing, holidaying. I started taking my inability as a challenge to see how much I can do, how far I can go. And I used to do everything till the time that it would become unbearable for me. I would only say tat my pain tolerance increased exponentially over all these years.
4. Have you struggled with feelings of inadequacy
Most of the time, Yes. I had and have many limitations in terms of lifestyle. I cant dance so freely, but I still do with my crooked hands and legs.
I cannot dress myself so easily, it takes some effort
I cannot reach my own back
I cannot sit on the floor and have eye contact with my kids ( I felt bad about it but my husband used to say, no issues, sit on the couch)
I could not carry them when they were little
I could not take care of my children when my knees were severely affected and I had to go in for a knee replacement surgery
I cannot go on long treks
I cannot sit on the beach sand and enjoy the waves
The list is long….
5. What were the challenges you faced because of your condition and how did you cope or overcome them?
I did face many challenges due to my condition at home, workplace and outside. I was always mentally ready and up for anything, but physically I had limitations and that sometimes pulled me down psychologically.
- I had challenges in raising my kids, I cannot do things tat all mothers do very easily. But tat did not constrain me, I had my own parenting style.
- I had difficulty in standing and taking long trainings at workplace. I never was hush hush about my condition, I openly spoke about it and made myself comfortable.
- I take the stairs one step at a time so people get frustrated standing behind me. I tell them tat I’m going to take a long time so I let them pass by.
- When I am unable to do something, I make a joke about it and laugh it out.
- I have already had one of my knees replaced at a young age, I proudly call myself an ironwoman.
- In a public place, in a confined area like an elevator or a waiting room I have heard people whispering about me, my crooked hands and bulged joints. I have learnt to brush them away. That doesn’t affect me at all.
- I have had relatives mock me saying it beats them as to why I decided to even get married because I cannot possibly be having a good life. But God gifted me a great husband and two adorable children. Many were astonished to see that I could become a mother and have an uncomplicated smooth delivery. I wanted to show them all that life is not easy for anyone, its not a bed of roses after all.
You have struggles all through, if you are going to give them importance, they will overpower you but if you learn to live with those struggles and brush the negativity away, you have a beautiful life to live.
6. If we asked you what some of your wildest dreams are, what would you say?
Hmm… wildest… I don’t know if its wild but I have done a lot of adventurous things in my life. Went on an offroading kinda trip on a hilly/rocky terrain when I was 8 months pregnant.
Just a few months back I went diving in the Andaman Islands (after taking the total responsibility of my health condition underwater).
I want to give back to society in some way, do my little bit. I don’t just limit myself, I try, if i can do it well and good, if not its okay. I know I at least tried. All this is possible for me because I have put my trust in God. He has brought me this far he will take care of me so I enjoy life!
7. Do you think, from your experience, that every obstacle or set back is actually training ground for the next big success or breakthrough in life?
Yes definitely, but as an individual one needs to take control of it. Unless I want to come out of the struggles and difficult times in my life, unless I create the will power in me, I cannot overcome any situation, I will only be pulled into it deeper. If I had started to pity myself due to all the limitations/flaws I had, I would have only ended up in depression. That’s killing myself.
Whenever there is an obstacle in life, try to create avenues to get out of it, these avenues might lead you to a new chapter in life.
When I was down at the thought that I’m unable to take care of my kids I started watching some youtube DIY videos to keep away from those negative thoughts. This brought out the creator and crafter side of me. I started making hair accessories for my daughter. It made me happy that I’m finally doing something useful plus I got appreciation from many. This spurred me on to open a Facebook page to market my handmade products. That’s how “All Things Beautiful” evolved. Its a passion/hobby turned into a home business. Its been 3 years now and I’m happy crafting and doing what I like with my own limitations. It creates an identity for oneself.
8. What has been the greatest achievement and joy of your life so far?
Knowing God had been the joy of my life. Even now I feel inadequate and depressed many times, but when I think of the blessings, I just smile.
Hope and belief is something that changes your perspective in life.
I cant say I have achieved anything great but I can say I am trying to live the life that was given to me to the fullest. I have so many more things that I want to do in life.
9. What is your advice to our readers today?
I cannot advise but I would like to say that there’s no problem in life that cannot be overcome with positivity. There’s nothing so bad to lose your life over it. Be happy, enjoy, do what you can and all that you want to. Trust in God. Life is beautiful.