When you grow up with a disease like Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s likely that your body may be physically affected by it if it’s not treated right away. Many of us have damaged joints, “deformities”, problematic eyes, thin bones due to osteoporosis and stunted growth. Some of us need walking aids and wheelchairs to get around. Many of us walk with limps because our ankles, knees and hips are damaged and painful. The medications can also have effects on our weight and our appearances. But you know what? Like the cool kids we are, we deal with it. We learn to get through these challenges and continue living our lives with JRA walking by our side.
But sometimes, worse than the physical pain of autoimmune arthritis is the emotional pain which comes when persons tease us or make negative comments pertaining to our situations. Browsing through arthritis blogs or forums, I’ve read countless stories about kids being teased because of the way they walk or because they have developed the characteristic “moon face” from prednisolone usage.
How many of you reading this have been teased due to the way autoimmune arthritis has affected your bodies and your situations?
The really sad reality is that bullying isn’t limited to just kids with illness, but virtually anyone. Bullying isn’t confined just to schools either. Even adults bully one other. I’m a grown 28-year old woman and I still encounter persons who go out of their way to speak negatively about my tiny size or my lack of physical strength. But with limited energy (and spoons ;)), I have learned to pay them no attention.
Just as we can handle our JRA, we can handle the negativity. We have to learn to deal with it. As we go through life we are often going to meet negative people, but we have to be strong enough to not let anyone tear us down and keep us from accomplishing our goals.
If you are young and being bullied in school, speak to your parents or teachers who will be able to guide you best as every situation is unique. I found a few really great articles on bullying and how to handle a bully and have included those links at the end of this post. As we get older, however, we can’t always run to our parents or teachers to protect us – we need to learn to be strong from the inside, so that we can protect ourselves. It may take some time, but I want you to work at loving yourself and being so strong on the inside that nothing can get you down.
If someone makes negative comments about your body or your JRA situation, consider these points:
1. Those negative comments are just one person’s opinion and don’t reflect who you are. You know yourself best and you know how much you’re worth. That person who teased you has no idea what you endure on a daily basis or how amazing you are. Let those unkind words fall to the ground and don’t carry them with you. Don’t allow one person’s words to break your beautiful spirit.
2. People who use their energy to tease others are often insecure in their own lives. If you dig a little deeper into the lives of the person who teases you, you’ll often find that they are unhappy about something in their lives. They try to divert attention away from their insecurities by teasing others. Ironically, I’ve often found that persons who bully are the ones who need the most support.
3. You have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and your situation is completely unique. Remember that. JRA affects each of us differently, depending on the age we are diagnosed and the aggressiveness of our conditions. If someone makes negative comments about your body, pay them no attention. You cannot compare your body to any other person’s body, not even someone else who is living with the same condition. Take that pressure off yourself and enjoy and love your body exactly the way it is, no matter what anyone says.
4. You can stand up for yourself. When I say stand up for yourself, I do not mean fighting. But you can defend yourself. You can explain to persons that you have JRA and it has affected your body. You can tell them that their words are hurtful. You can simply shrug or laugh it off. Bullies are often looking for an easy target. When people see that you are willing to defend yourself, they are less likely to continue because they want to avoid the confrontation.
5. You can walk away. In life we have to know when to fight and when to walk away. Many persons bully because they want to get a reaction. When you stay calm and don’t allow yourself to get bothered by their words, they often feel defeated and move on.
Guys and girls, I know it’s hard. JRA already takes so much energy out of us and having to deal with negativity at the same time is tough. But please don’t allow the insensitive words of others (who have no idea what it’s like to live with chronic disease) to bring you down. You all have such amazing and beautiful spirits and it would be really sad if those spirits faded because of a few nasty words made by a silly person. Make yourself so strong on the inside that no one can get you down! 🙂
Readers, if you have any stories to share or advice for dealing with negativity, feel free to discuss it in the comments.
- Bullying and Juvenile Arthritis: A Memory of Childhood – http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/155449/chi
- Help Your Child Cope With the Ups and Downs of School – http://www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/juvenile-arthritis/daily-life/school-and-social-issues/tips-to-coping-with-juvenile-arthritis.php
- Children with Disabilities: How to Deal with Teasing in School – http://voices.yahoo.com/children-disabilities-deal-teasing-2344767.html
- Dealing with teasing and bullying (Young Carer Project) – http://www.youngcarersnsw.asn.au/Documents/507_DealingWithBullies.pdf
- Bullying and Teasing of Youth with Disabilities: Creating Positive School Environments for Effective Inclusion – http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=1332
- Kid’s Health – dealing with bullies: http://kidshealth.org/kid/grow/school_stuff/bullies.html
- When People Tease – http://www.girlshealth.gov/disability/disrelationships/tease.html
Keep strong everyone!