Day in the life of a young person living with arthritis

Steff DiPardo (@totallyfunkless) is a disability advocate and writer that specializes in the areas of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), fibromyalgia, and microscopic colitis.

Photography by Patient Voice.

As a 26-year-old woman with arthritis, my daily life is definitely different from my peers. I’m going to show you a little glimpse of what my life is like on a daily basis.

I developed arthritis at the age of 21, so my life has been drastically different than other 20-something-year-olds that I know. I’ll break my day up into morning, afternoon, and evening, and show you what my day-to-day life is like!

Mornings with arthritis

Every morning I wake up and my entire body is stiff. This typically lasts around 30 minutes, until I get out of bed and move around. Getting out of bed can take some time though. I’m always in pain, so when I wake up and there’s body stiffness on top of that - it makes things a little more complicated.

Once I finally get out of bed, I head to the bathroom. On a good day, I can start my day with a shower. Most days though, showering can be very difficult, so I either will take a bath, or opt for no bathing some days. If you’re a person with a chronic illness, you’ll understand just how exhausting and challenging showers are.

If you don’t have a chronic illness, I can try to explain. Showering takes up a lot of my energy on a day where I already don’t start out with much(chronic fatigue causes this, along with being in pain 24/7).

So most days of the week, I’ll get up and wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. I always sit on a stool to do this though, because standing a lot causes me fatigue and pain.

Most of my mornings are slow starts and include me spending the first chunk of it lying awake in bed, trying to mentally prepare for the day. I’ll also make any doctor’s calls I need to make in the morning.

My afternoons

I’m fortunate enough to still live at home with my parents. I also work freelance, so I don’t have to get ready and be out the door every day. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle that. I say this because most of my days are spent in my home and in my room/bed trying to cope with my symptoms.

Some afternoons I’ll have work to do, but I really work on my own time(and when I’m feeling well enough to, like right now, I’m wide awake and writing at 6 am because I can’t sleep). Otherwise, since it’s currently summer when I’m writing this, I’ll sit outside with my cat, and socialize on Instagram and Twitch (my go-to’s).

I’ll make lunch, which is usually something easy. When I prep food, a lot of times I’ll sit on a stool just like I do in the mornings for my routine.I sit whenever possible because I know standing too much will take a lot out of me.

After lunch, at some point, I’ll be tired. I nap at least once a day.Lately, my chronic fatigue has just been a mess and it’s controlling my life.As I mentioned earlier, I’m so fortunate to 1. Live at home and 2. Work freelance currently.  

So it’s nap time, and I’ll usually wake up around dinner time and go socialize with my family and eat.

Evenings living with arthritis

After dinner is when I usually start to get a little bored. I try to get a small workout in and do my daily word search. I also look at my planner and make sure I’m on top of everything the week has for me (appointments, work calls, social events, etc.).

After all of this is done, I sometimes Facetime my best friend, or hop on a Discord call and talk to my friends that I’ve met online. I also scroll through social media and time passes pretty quickly if I’m doing any of these.

You might think my days aren’t filled with much, but honestly, having a chronic illness can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Doing simple tasks can take so much out of you and leave you with no energy for the rest of the day.

I spend a lot of time in my bed on my computer because it’s where I feel the most comfortable in a body that’s never comfortable.

Most nights I’m too exhausted to do my nightly routine, so I’ll use a face cleansing wipe, sometimes brush my teeth, and head to sleep, unless painsomnia kicks in. I’ll typically get to sleep between 12-3 am these days, and then I’m off to sleep until tomorrow comes, and I’m ready to do this allover again."