Meet Melissa Jenski, Co-owner of Good Grief and RA Diagnosee

21 May 2021 7:23 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series with a special edition that features a yoga entrepreneur and YFA friend.  Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members in our community, we would not be where we are today. 

What was your experience of RA onset and diagnosis? 

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, just a few days after my 29th birthday. After a year and half of symptoms that came and went, and visits to various doctors that couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with me, I finally had an answer - it came in the form of a double-edge sword. At the time, I was in so much physical pain that I was barely able to dress myself, brush my teeth or walk for more than a few minutes without having to stop. I was scared - scared I might never get better, scared that I would keep getting worse. And so began my journey.

At what point did you discover Yoga for Arthritis and what impact did it have?

As I navigated my new life with my new diagnosis, I did what I usually do when confronted with something hard and uncomfortable, only this time it was bigger than anything that had come before it. I cried, a lot. I screamed. I got angry. I felt sorry for myself. And resentful of others. I questioned the universe. And then, I got on with my life. I dug deep to face my biggest fears and heal myself - physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Somewhere along the path to my healing I discovered Yoga for Arthritis in some corner of the internet. There weren't yet online classes or DVD’s or books, all of that came later, but as I devoured every article I could find about Dr. Moonaz’s work, I felt hopeful and encouraged. It gave me the strength I needed to seek out a therapeutic yoga class in my own community.

How do you use the tools of YFA now?

Yoga for Arthritis taught me how to take care of my body and my needs and has reinforced how powerful the mind-body connection is. Though it’s rare that I have a flare-up these days, I’ve learned to let go of judging myself on the mat - comparing myself to what other people can do or what yoga is supposed to look like. It’s okay that I can’t touch my toes or that I need a few extra bolsters to get comfortable in a pose. Having gone through an unprecedented health challenge has given me so much appreciation and gratitude for my body and physical well-being; sometimes it’s easy to take that for granted but yoga brings me back to a place of awe and honoring. Now when I go to a yoga class, I say, the more props, the merrier!

What is Good Grief and where did the idea come from?

My business, Good Grief, which I started in partnership with my sister, was born from my experience of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. My journey was lonely and isolating much of the time as I didn’t have a community that understood what I was going through. Well-intentioned people would often say to me “but you don’t look sick” or “you’re too young to be that sick” – which didn’t help the situation. As I openly and honestly shared what I was going through over the years, I became a resource for others navigating a similar diagnosis. Connecting with others awakened in me, a desire to help others. I didn’t exactly know what that would look like at the time, but over the years - given other hardships I’ve endured and witnessed others endure - the vision for Good Grief slowly took shape and gained clarity.

What Good Grief boxes might be relevant to the YFA community?

Naturally, since this business was largely born from my personal experience of dealing with chronic pain and everything that goes with it, we created an entire wellness section that focuses on everything from common colds to chronic illness and the various symptoms that go along with them (headaches, inflammation, fatigue and more). There are two care packages in particular for those dealing with autoimmune issues and/or arthritis. Our Pain is a Pain box features some goodies that help with sore joints and muscles while our Autoimmune Wellness box features a book by the same name and some anti-inflammatory goodies to go along with it.

Is there a special offer for YFAers on these boxes?

I was so excited to connect with Dr. Moonaz and share my story with the YFA community that we thought it would be wonderful to offer a special promotion. YFA members can use code: YFA15 to score 15% off either of the two boxes mentioned earlier. We would love to bring some comfort to you on your healing journey or help you support a friend who needs a little extra TLC.

What would you tell someone who was recently diagnosed with arthritis or struggling with their arthritis management?

For anyone in the trenches - whether they were just diagnosed or are just having a real hard time with their current situation I would offer two things: 1) Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself the space to feel all your feelings. They are all valid and important. And 2) Remember that everything is temporary, nothing stays the same; things will shift, your situation will change. Accepting where you are now and knowing that it won’t be forever can be very powerful. You’ve got this!

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