"We help each other and get stronger together"

We help each other and get stronger together

Cecilia Bergåkra remembers the turbulence surrounding her mother's illness caused by RA when she was little. The disease affected the family's everyday life, but has also had positive aspects. Cecilia says that she has gained a greater understanding of recovery, communication and independence.

How was it for you to have a Mother with RA?

My name is Cecilia Bergåkra, I am 19 years old and I am the daughter of Sigrid Bergåkra. I guess that it was around eight to ten years ago that my mother first fell ill. I was nine, ten years old. What I remember was that there was a lot of turbulence around and that I noticed that she was not feeling well. I can't remember how it started but I noticed she couldn't do everyday things like she could before, and she was much more tired than usual.

It has never been burdensome for me that my mother is sick. But I have noticed that I do more things myself, and sometimes I notice that other people I know may have a parent who does things for them. For me, it’s a bonus when my Mom is able to do more things than normal. It has not been a negative experience, but more than we have helped each other and become stronger together.

I do not know what it would have been like if my mother had not been sick, but I have become very independent. I have learned a lot from my Mom about things that are good for me too, even though I do not have a chronic illness. I understand that you need time to recover when you’ve been working or exercising hard, I know it’s important to fill up with good food and to take care of yourself. I think we are good at that. I have gained a lot of insights from taking care of myself, and that’s thanks to Mom.

We would not have had this success if we had not had to deal with these adversities. I think it has strengthened us a lot, we cheer for each other in the big things and the small. We know that we have it tough in certain situations, but it may not be visible to the outside world.

What has your mother done well and what could she have done better?

Sometimes it is full speed ahead, and mom has to do things even though it hurts and I see that as a real sign of her strength. But, sometimes it might have been better if she had said: "no, I can't do that or I’ll be wiped out tomorrow". It's hard, of course, but I think that setting her boundaries a little better would have helped her. What she has done well is that she always stays cheerful without having to pretend. I know she feels good inside and takes care of herself.

What are your tips for other relatives of people with RA?

It's so important to just take care of each other. To try to listen, understand and clear and honest with each other. I need to know what it is that just doesn't work today, and we talk to each other about it. Communication is really the most important thing! Right now Mom and I also work together in a family business, which means our everyday life is mixed with our working day. This means that we have to make plans every day so that everyone can have as good a day as possible.