My name is Mariah. 
I have RA. 
It doesn't have me. 

In the Spring of 2008, I was an extremely busy dual degree graduate student, simultaneously pursuing a law degree and a masters in environmental policy. I was a member of the law journal, worked as a newsletter editor and events planner for an environmental research center, and was the only graduate student on the University's club water polo team.

Then it happened. It started with some pain in my toes. Then fatigue and anemia. Followed by pain and swelling in my fingers. Wrists. Ankles. Knees. At first it was easy to excuse the symptoms. I dropped a flag stand on my toe during setup for one of my events - maybe the toe broke or healed funny. I was probably just fatigued from being so busy. My hands likely hurt from spending hours in front of my computer preparing for law school exams. I expected to feel better when the semester ended and I had real time to rest - but I didn't. Instead my knees swelled up to the size of grapefruits and they were so painful I could hardly stand or walk, and I was still exhausted no matter how much I slept. With all my symptoms adding up, the doctors gave me my diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis. I was 25 years old.

I starting writing this blog in September 2008 and I decided in my very first post that I would have to start by taking my new life one day at a time. Since then, this blog has been a very honest record of how I have adjusted to life with RA by always trying to look forward

In the years since my diagnosis I graduated with both degrees and married my amazingly supportive partner, APL. We are so grateful that I was able to conceive, carry, and breastfeed our two beautiful boys, OZL and CZL, and our daughter mZL. If you are new to this blog, a great place to catch up on my story is here.

Working to raise awareness about arthritis and fundraising for a cure has also become a very important part of our family's life. I write for various health websites (you can find these articles organized by topic under the tabs) and I have become a very active patient advocate, both in real life and on social media. One of my particular passions has been supporting moms (and moms-to-be!) who are living with chronic illnesses through my private Facebook group, Mamas Facing Forward (if you fall into this category please visit and request to join!) Our family also volunteers regularly with the Arthritis Foundation and other non-profits, and Team Z has raised over $45,000 for arthritis research since 2010. 

Going forward I hope to continue supporting and advocating for people living with arthritis and other chronic conditions - particularly those of us who have been diagnosed at young ages and are trying to figure out how to start our careers, our families, and our lives while living with chronic illness. 

From This Point. Forward. 

About Arthritis

6 Things People With RA Wish Everyone Understood - on NewLifeOutlook RA
Here are the top six things people living with RA wish everyone could understand.

Arthritis - It Might Not Be What You Think - on Chronic Care Collaborative
Osteoarthritis isn't the same thing as autoimmune forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile arthritis.  

The word arthritis is used to refer to more than 100 different diseases and conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage, and other tissue.

6 Myths About Arthritis - on Mango Health
There are so many myths and misconceptions out there about arthritis - what it is, who gets it, and how it impacts our lives.

Video: What is one common misconception about living with RA? - on RheumatoidArthritis.net 
Kelly, Nan, and I share common misconceptions about living with RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis is like living with a pebble in your shoe.

8 Things Not To Say To Someone Who Has RA - on RheumatoidArthritis.net
Here's a list of eight things not to say to someone living with RA - and some facts you can offer in response if someone says these things to you.

We Are Not Alone - on RheumatoidArthritis.net
There are some famous people who live/lived with RA!