"... I thought I was losing my mind these past few years or becoming a hypochondriac because first my finger and hand were killing me and then my doctor said I was fine.. then my toe and foot pain became unbearable again doc said I was fine and then the never ending exhaustion had me thinking i was crazy--Always the doc made me think I was over exaggerating .."
Reading this, (I should say "again", because so many people have said similar things on this site) made me think "Yup, I've SO been there!". I was on the receiving end of that for years and years. My doctor was the same. Don't get me wrong, she is a sincerely nice person, I like her very much, and I've known her for a long time. But she blew me and my complaints off so much that I quit mentioning a lot of it. No point in asking about my toenail fungus again: she will shrug and give me a prescription that won't work. Again. Tell her I'm tired, she'll talk about hormones and say "Lose a bit of weight, maybe that will help". Mention the fact that I don't sleep well and I will get the set piece about exercise and sleep hygiene. Aching? Just take some ibuprofen and a warm bath. Sore feet? Good shoes and maybe some new orthotics. I knew all of her responses, and all of the remedies. And if the remedies didn't work, it was because I didn't lose weight, I didn't eat as well as I should, I didn't exercise enough, or I didn't do something else ... It actually got to the point that I believed -- I really believed -- that I was obsessive and exaggerating and a hypochondriac and that it was my own fault that I felt the wretched way that I did. Aches. Brain fog. Itinerant joint pain and swelling. Overweight. Depression. Insomnia. Joint replacements. I just needed to exercise more and eat better. Get good shoes. Lose some weight. Pace myself. Be perfect. And if I couldn't be perfect, well then, what did I expect ...
By the time I was diagnosed (15-20 years after symptom onset) the mentality that "it's my own fault" was deeply, deeply ingrained. Even now, I have to stop myself from thinking that I'm exaggerating, and that I'm the author of my own tragedy. Daily, I have to tell myself that I have a nasty, destructive disease, and it's not my fault. And despite the physical evidence, and the wonderful support of my team of medical professionals (my GP included) I still find myself slipping into self-blame.
I count that as part of the damage that PsA has wrought on me.