Self-discipline Can Be a Stabilizer in Life With Vasculitis

It's one of the many skills columnist Allison Ross has developed over the years

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by Allison Ross |

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When the world outside of your head becomes overwhelming and you need to cling to something for support, where do you find your center?

With vasculitis, that world is an unfamiliar one. It’s full of new challenges, new details a patient is obligated to learn for their own well-being, and more clutter to maintain. The catalyst is their own body, which feels especially unfair.

Even though I’m in remission, I still have days when I feel under the weather. I often feel the disconnect when I’m mentally stable but my physical self is struggling. It might be a sore throat, muscle or joint aches, or general fatigue. But when it hits, I feel myself spinning rapidly, and if I don’t take control right away I can disappear over the cliff.

So there has to be something that provides stability. For you, it could be talking with a trusted friend who offers a helpful and objective perspective. Some patients find relief in pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, or soothing self-care rituals like hot herbal tea. Others turn to their spirituality or religious guidance for peace.

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Developing discipline

While I don’t believe it’s possible to go it alone, one of my favorite stabilizers is the self-discipline I’ve developed over the years. I believe it creates resilience, because it helps me gather the tools I need to withstand times of stress — even when I’m by myself.

Self-discipline can take various forms. It might be a calendar organized in a way that helps me remember doctor visits and lab tests (with days blocked off for resting, too). Or maybe it’s a daily routine that keeps me on track so I get everything on my to-do list accomplished. Sometimes self-discipline looks like holding back, and sometimes it’s more like pushing forward.

For example, I have to be cognizant of the things I shouldn’t do while taking medication. In my college and young adult years, I had several conversations with my doctor about alcohol consumption. Though it’s never been a particularly dangerous vice for me, my liver is probably healthier now in my mid-30s than if I had been more wanton with my drink orders when I was younger.

On the other hand, exercise is an area where I take a more active role in self-discipline. At times when I feel energized, it’s easy to lace up my sneakers and get moving. But when I’m exhausted, I have to push myself to get a workout done. This is where the habits I’ve built come in handy.

It’s easy to talk a big game and pat myself on the back. Most days, I go to bed knowing I did my best and feel proud of the effort I put into taking care of myself. But that’s not always the case. So what happens when I simply can’t withstand the external influences that challenge my willpower?

Finding balance

I give myself grace. I realize that not every day is going to come with strength and rigidity. If I accidentally backslide and eat too many cookies after dinner, I might go to bed not feeling too well. But I also know that tomorrow is a new day and I can start fresh with a healthy breakfast to rebalance my system.

There’s always a chance to regain equilibrium. And when I do, my motivation to do good to myself is rejuvenated stronger than it was before. Being on top of my life gives me the confidence that no matter what happens to my body, I’m better able to control the outcome while ensuring that I’m in the right headspace to handle it.

It’s also a matter of survival. If vasculitis is going to claim a huge portion of my life’s energy, the least I can do is go toe-to-toe with it and make it work harder. A healthy body and mind are the strongest fortress possible against an autoimmune condition.

While I would never wish a chronic diagnosis on anyone, it’s important to acknowledge the byproducts of it that aren’t so bad. For me, and maybe for you, too, self-discipline is an attribute I was forced to develop. And the end result is that when the bad days do come, I have remedies and routines I can rely on until I feel safe emerging on the other side.

Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.


Chuck Dreiling avatar

Chuck Dreiling

Agree, don't beat yourself up and enjoy what ever your enjoyment is. 29 year with GPA Thanks for the news letters.


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