Tag Archives: arthritis and relationships

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The First Wealth is Health

By Julie Eller, co-host of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast

In the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast, Rebecca and I had the pleasure of chatting with Natalie Dattilo, PhD, a clinical health psychologist and the Director of Psychology Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We got to ask Dr. Dattilo about the relationship between body image, self-esteem and arthritis — and ways that we can shift our perspectives of our arthritic bodies.

In my teenage years, I remember walking along the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, where I spent many summer days soaking up the sun and ocean air. A smoothie place with chalkboard art out front to welcome folks into their store showcased a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that has always stuck out in my mind: “The first wealth is health.”

As a young person living with a chronic illness, I think a lot about this quote. How can I gain true “health wealth” if I don’t occupy a perfectly healthy body? How can I build a relationship between my mind and body that is rich with health, despite the chronic pain of my condition?

After two decades of life with arthritis, I still battle the perception that my arthritis makes me less healthy, even when it is well managed. I’ve always wanted to reclaim the idea of what it means to be healthy. So many of us who live with arthritis engage in healthy behaviors, eat well and exercise to our best ability, and yet, because of our diagnosis, we fall into a category of chronic illness that does not always feel like it fully represents our health.

In this recurring internal monologue, I find myself arguing that people living with chronic illnesses can still be healthy, can still have ideal bodies, can still accomplish that wealth that Emerson talked about so long, as we reframe our perception of the ideal healthy body. It all comes back to our understanding of our own bodies and how we perceive them; in other words, it comes down to our body image and our self-esteem.

I particularly enjoyed recording this latest podcast episode,  as we explored with Dr. Dattilo how managing chronic arthritis affects our perceptions of our bodies and the impact that can have in our lives. We also talked about ways we can reclaim a more positive body-image perception and a more confident sense of self-esteem.

I know that our conversation helped me break free of my internal monologue a bit, and really remember that even with arthritis, we can achieve the kind of wealth that Ralph Waldo Emerson celebrated: health. Tune in to the episode today!



telling your loved ones you have arthritis

How to Share Your Feelings About Arthritis with Loved Ones

If you feel that your friends and family don’t understand how arthritis really affects you, you’re not alone. Not only are arthritis symptoms often invisible, but they can come and go. Some days, you may feel great and energetic; other days, you might be too tired or sore to be active. People who don’t have a chronic condition may not get how different your experience can be from one day to the next, says rheumatologist J. Michael Finley, DO, an associate professor of internal medicine at Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California.

Use these tips to help friends and family understand what you’re dealing with – and possibly improve your relationships.

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family dynamics and arthritis

When Arthritis is a Family Affair

Alberta Dillihay’s children began urging her to stop working soon after her 2010 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis. Stress from her job as a public works supervisor in a busy office 45 minutes from her home, combined with finding the right arthritis treatments, could affect her health, they argued.

“I was and am glad they were concerned and want to help. But sometimes it’s frustrating because you feel you’re being treated like a kid,” says Dillihay, 63. “You can still do what you need to do.”

When a mom has arthritis, the family dynamic often changes. “That means who’s in charge shifts, as does who’s taking care of whom,” says Eve Wittenberg, PhD, a senior research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science at Harvard University in Boston. “There are downsides, but there can also be huge satisfaction to changing a relationship with a child or partner; the ability to let others help can strengthen bonds,” says Wittenberg, who studies family dynamics in chronic illness. She and Nancy Ruddy, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Montefiore Health System’s College of Medicine in New York City, offer this advice. 

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peacekeeping preserving harmony holidays

Peace Talk: Preserving Family Harmony During the Holidays

Ever left a family holiday gathering churning with tension and swearing that, next year, you’re going somewhere far, far away? These events sometimes ratchet up anxiety and stress, which are not only unpleasant but also can undermine your health and well-being. Take heart. Here, three experts offer different approaches to help you keep the peace and ward off stress.

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