“It’s important to always have people who inspire you to carry on…”

05 November 2020
Georgia our campaigner and with her graduation certificate.

Georgia is 21 years old and was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis when she was 8 years old, this later changed to rheumatoid arthritis as she entered adulthood at 18.

She shares how she’s managed these uncertain times, what’s she’s grateful for and why she’s passionate about campaigning.

“…lockdown can be a regular occurrence for those of us with chronic illnesses.”

The first lockdown was a period most people described as their world coming to a halt. Plans were cancelled and we couldn’t go outside of our own four walls.

The thing is that lockdown can be a regular occurrence for those of us with chronic illnesses. Often our flare ups mean that we have to cancel plans and we can be restricted to staying at home due to the symptoms we’re experiencing.

I normally receive regular treatment every 12 weeks through the hospital and due to the impact of the pandemic this waiting list has got longer.

This means (as is the case for many others) that I’m having to live with the side effects of my condition as treatments are overdue. Our conditions don’t just stop, and this has been the hardest thing to have to accept.

Despite these extra challenges, the support of my family and friends has been so important. The power of technology enabled us to stay in touch and having family local to me meant that we often communicated through our windows, just to see each other smile.

The delay to specific treatment and the changes to services I was receiving, such as clinical health psychology and waiting for steroid treatment has meant that my condition wasn’t manageable.

Despite being at home to rest, the lack of opportunity to keep myself busy has meant that I was constantly reminded of the reality of my condition.

“I’m grateful for the people in my life who give me a focus.”

These include the medical professionals looking after my care to my family and friends. I believe we meet certain people in our lives at certain times because we needed to.

I am very lucky to have met some wonderful people who have inspired me. Family members, like my grandmother who has suffered with arthritis since her teens but has always encouraged me to never let it outshine who I am or what I’m destined to achieve.

My parents and sister, who always stood by me in every appointment, challenge, proud or emotional moment.

Educators, those who have taught me, supported me or those I have worked with.

These strong women who’ve experienced their own battles echoed to me that it is always absolutely ok to not be ok, to pick myself up and dust myself off if I fall, and that laughter is truly the best medicine.

I also feel very lucky to have had some wonderful medical professionals such as my nurses, consultants and therapists who’ve dedicated their time to helping understand and control my illness.

I’m in debt to those who have stood by me, especially my immediate family and close friends who have formed the strongest army I shall ever need.

It’s important to always have people who inspire you to carry on, grow personally and remind you that everything will always work out.

“There are so many wonderful opportunities which I feel very lucky to have.”

Completing my studies and achieving a first-class degree in Education Studies with English language during lockdown is an achievement which means so much to me.

Having been at university for 3 years, I saw many changes to my conditions and treatment plans, but I still had my studies to complete.

I experienced some difficulties with the side effects of my medication, this made it more challenging to write assignments and concentrate on my learning day to day. Also, going to medical appointments meant I missed some essential face to face teaching

I’m very lucky to have had such a wonderful team of academics, tutors, friends and support staff at university who made balancing university life and my health struggles easier.

I’m now excited to start my master’s degree and facilitate a peer mentoring programme at my university too. There are so many wonderful opportunities which I feel very lucky to have.

I want to strive to be someone. Someone who has an impact on the education of children who come from all walks of life. I’d like to support children with chronic illnesses too and my focus at the minute is getting involved as much as I can like Versus Arthritis to gain further experience.

“Using your own experiences to support and advocate for others is such a rewarding experience.”

Campaigning is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had the privilege of doing. Using your own experiences to support and advocate for others is such a rewarding experience.

I often use my social media platforms to talk and discuss the new campaigns of Versus Arthritis or my own journey.

Taking the opportunity to discuss my condition with close friends, family and some strangers across social media has been so impactful.

It made people reach out to me who were experiencing arthritis or chronic illnesses too and they were in awe that I could be open about the difficulties I was experiencing.

It’s in those moments I realised how important campaigning and sharing our story is because you truly will never know who needs to hear it. Most of the time, the person that needs to hear it will be yourself.

I feel proud of the work I have done, and I cannot wait to continue my journey with Versus Arthritis.

I will forever be grateful to this charity for the opportunities of involvement they have given me for 3 years. It has helped me process my own journey more than anything and that’s the one thing I needed more than ever.

"My advice to other young people who are thinking about campaigning would be…"

  • Campaigning has provided me with an opportunity to process my own journey with arthritis. I think this is an important experience that we all must partake in.
  • There are so many levels of getting involved with the charity, like sharing Versus Arthritis posts and campaigns across your own social media platform.
  • There’s still an underlying misconception about young people being diagnosed with arthritis and therefore young people getting involved with campaigning gives us a stronger voice to show that we are just as important as everyone else.
  • Join the fight, get in touch with Versus Arthritis and be advocates for people just like you.

Get involved

People with arthritis can’t ignore their pain. And we need to let the government and the NHS know that neither can they.

Please add your voice to our Impossible to Ignore petition and share the petition with friends and family on Facebook or Twitter.

We are here for you