Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flare Psychology

Image found here.

I must be coming out of my latest flare. I know this because I find myself irritated by the television. Irritated by the newspaper. Irritated with the weather.

Irritated by life.

It took several years of experiencing the autoimmune flare/recovery/stabilization cycle before I realized that for me, becoming cranky and restless were symptoms of the recovery part of the cycle, or a good thing. A very good thing.

Say what?

There is no mention of crabbiness as a positive symptom in any of the books that I have read which address successfully coping with the periodic flares of autoimmune disease, and I'm not surprised. I should have realized that a person with character traits such as mine would not respond to anything, even an autoimmune flare, in a typical fashion.

Wouldn't it seem logical that mood and psychological symptoms related to a flare would follow a pattern something like this?
Flare onset: feelings of anger or sadness - "I feel sick. I'm sad."

Recovery: feelings of relief and gratitude - "Oh, good. I'm starting to feel better."

Stabilization: happiness - "Oh, Joy! Rapture! I'm happy that the flare is over!"
Somehow it just doesn't go that way for me.

My dad, since my early childhood, has always described me as being contrary. Apparently my um, unusual personality showed up as early as age four, when I reportedly greeted a visitor with, "Who let the jackass in?"

I have come to realize that my contrariness is key in the way that I respond to my flares. This is how my cycles happen:
Flare onset: Feeling giddy and clueless - "Well, good golly! I know I left my car somewhere around here. Darling! I seem to recall that you are my child - what's your name again? Why, hello Mr. Couch.....think I'll just lie down on you for a week or two. Right here. Don't mind me. ZZZzzzzzzz...." My family has learned that giggly and incoherent sentences indicate that they need to lead me by the elbow directly to bed.

Recovery: Feeling increasingly aware of surroundings - "What day is it? Why do I feel as though I haven't had a shower in a week? What the hell??"

Stabilization: Feeling cranky and restless - "What a waste of a perfectly good week! There's absolutely nothing to eat in this house. Good grief, the dust is an inch thick around here. Who watches this crap on TV? Our politicians are idiots....Where's my car keys?"
It is only after I find myself busily engaged in some task that I realize my flare is gone.

I've never heard myself exclaim, "Oh, Joy! Rapture!" Must be my contrary nature.


lizk71 said...

I know exactly what you mean.... when I start a flare my brain just doesn't compute....I feel in a daze. But I have noticed that I get very short tempered during a flare. No one can do anything right around me. I am really grouchy and I know I am grouchy but it just happens before I can control it....

annie said...

thank you once again for a hilarious, but true picture of our complicated illness. I don't think of myself as having a contrary nature, but I empathize with your three stages of flare. I particulary understand the frustration, and crankiness part. As of late, I seem to have trouble accepting and living alongside my illness. Everything and everyone bothers me (I attributed this to MENOPAUSE!)Someone living with chronic illness doesn't have the luxury of time to prance around with joy, we just get down to the living part as we've wasted weeks, months and years and need to play catch up to life in general, but believe me, we are very grateful to be living when we're feeling a tad better. Maybe it's time I found a support group to help with the rage and frustration part!