Discovering a Different Version of Myself With AS

Developing AS changed my life in in all kinds of ways.

Things I had enjoyed were now off-limits. Plans I’d made were cancelled. People I had felt connected to grew frustrated and dropped out of my life. At times it felt too hard to re-shape my life into something different, especially when it wasn’t a version I would ever have chosen. The years ahead stretched on in a way I was no longer excited about.

The future felt like unfamiliar territory I wasn’t keen on entering, but I knew it was the only one on offer. As we often do when given no choice, I simply put one foot in front of the other and got through each day as best I could.

Over time, the version of me with a chronic illness became my new normal

Like other griefs I’ve experienced, the sharp edges of a life with AS eventually became less uncomfortable. I began to accept my lot in life and the resentment and sense of unfairness ultimately lessened.

Throughout this time I also began learning to take some responsibility and better self-manage my condition.

Fortunately for me, the approach I took to caring for myself and prioritizing my health paid dividends. There was a lot of trial and error but the symptoms slowly became more bearable and a new, less limited version of my life began to emerge.

I made some major lifestyle changes to improve my health. These initially felt like a burden but I was committed to giving them my best shot.

Over time I came to incorporate these new habits into my identity

I adopted new ways of moving, eating, thinking and being in the world. I valued these new practices for the health they had returned to me and the knowledge I had gained about my body.

In many ways it made for a better life than the one I otherwise would have had if I had never gotten sick.

I also found new people to connect with in meaningful ways. I left those who had dropped off during the bad times in my past where they belonged. I made new friends with people whose courage, tenacity, and ability to push through inspired me. I had conversations on different levels with a fascinating assortment of people from all around the world.

Connecting with others who had AS made me feel a part of something much bigger than me. It was like gaining entry to a select club filled with people who actually “got it.” It more than resolved any feelings of loneliness I’d experienced in the early days of diagnosis.

While never my sole identity, AS has definitely become a part of who I am today

Digging deep to get through pain and difficulty allowed me to see a different side of myself. I’m proud of the strength I found to endure and make changes. I often thought of myself as weak or a quitter in the past. When tested, I found an inner tenacity that surprised me.

I’m softer and more receptive to the pain of others since experiencing illness myself. This empathy allows me to help others in a meaningful way and ultimately opened up a new career path for me to follow as a health coach working with AS.

I’ll never know who I would’ve been without this disease, but I’m grateful to have grown into a version of me who has learned to live well in spite of it.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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