The onset of chronic illness is a threat, not only to one’s body but also to emotional wellbeing. I will explain how various stages of adaptation over 33 years of living with rheumatoid arthritis have been facilitated and impeded by internal and external influences. Adaptation has involved facing fear, anger and loss. It has also meant the renegotiation of relationships, both intimate and professional but above all, with myself.
I will suggest that positive adaptation requires: a reconstruction of one’s internal world and the reclaiming of personal power; that the ability to adapt and self- manage is not a permanent state - it can be affected by disease activity and one’s environment; and I suggest that a challenge for health professionals will be to motivate patients without insinuating that the absence of an innate ability to adapt is a ‘failing’.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared