Dre: Living Beyond RA
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
A little about myself. I'm super creative. I love making things! Like music, art, videos, clothes and writing. I used to want to be a model/actress when I was in high school but thought I couldn't anymore when my arthritis got really debilitating. I'm still hopeful but now I want to be a movie director.
2. What is one thing you wish people knew about your chronic illness.
One thing I wish people knew about Rheumatoid Arthritis is that sometimes I don't know what's wrong with me until I'm halfway through feeling it. Like, if I'm having a foggy brain day or a flare up or I'm super fatigued. My friends or co workers feel like something's wrong with me but I don't realize it because I'm just attempting to be "normal." It wasn't until I got an Instagram account and found other people on Facebook and Insta that could describe their symptoms better then I could. I had similar symptoms and I didn't realize they were RA related. I always just felt like something was wrong with me. Now I can help other people understand what I'm going through better because I have people on Instagram that I can relate to.
3. What would you tell someone who was just diagnosed?
I would tell someone that just got diagnosed that there is still hope. That they aren't alone and if they need a shoulder to cry on that I'm here to listen. I'm all about giving hope and encouragement. I'm also about being real. So if you're pissed at life and your diagnosis and feeling like you've lost yourself and don't wanna live anymore, I got you boo. Fucking swear at the sky and cry. I've personally done it so many times. It's an adjustment living with RA, but there is still joy in life and it isn't the end of the world. You can still do the things you love it just might be done differently then how you used to do it.
I'm a pretty strong willed and stubborn person. So learning that asking for help with doing things wasn't a sign of weakness. Actually letting people help me has been a journey.
4. Are there things you were able to do before your diagnosis that you’re not able to do now? How have you handled that?
I'm a pretty strong-willed and stubborn person. So learning that asking for help with doing things wasn't a sign of weakness. Actually letting people help me has been a journey. I've come to realize people help me because they believe in me. I hate being told no and that "I can't." I'm training to do a 5k in every state right now. Doctors have told me I shouldn't run. I've come to terms that I may just be walking every 5k and I may be last place but HEY I can fucking walk! I had a limp for 7 years and had my hips replaced this year. So, being able to walk through a grocery store and not feel exhausted feels pretty good.
5. How do you pick yourself up on the bad days?
How do I pick myself up? Music! I love music! There are so many concerts I wanna go to! Also my friends. I'd rather have a small group of friends that know me through and through than a lot of people that don't really know me. I've been through so much shit in life I have to believe in a higher power. For me, that's "God." After being in 6 car accidents, my lil bro dying, my mom having cancer and me contemplating suicide a few times along with RA....man there was always something in my core that told me I'm alive for a reason. I have a story to share and hope to give.
After being in 6 car accidents, my lil bro dying, my mom having cancer and me contemplating suicide a few times along with RA....man there was always something in my core that told me I'm alive for a reason. I have a story to share and hope to give.
6. Is there a mantra or phrase that you live your life by or really identify with?
A couple phrases-when I'm stressed I tell myself to "just breathe baby just breathe" and "progress is progress no matter how small. "God" only gives us what we can handle, apparently I'm a "badass." I painted on my car for a while before it got totaled. Lastly, my own slogan-warrior in my prime or W.I.M.P because I believe when you're at your lowest point is when you can gain the most strength. Why? Because I'm living it.
7. Tell us three things about yourself completely unrelated to chronic illness.
Three things completely unrelated to RA?
1) I'm one fourth Cuban and VERY proud of it.
2) I have a badass half sleeve
3) I want to swim with sharks.
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