Did Stress Lead To My Diagnosis?
Last updated: February 2022
Eight years ago, I had my first big flare in my feet. It came from nowhere. It was Summer, I was enjoying my life in London. I had a busy year working full time as a researcher, and training in acting evenings and weekend. I loved my life, I felt fulfilled by this full-on schedule rich in creative experiences, work challenges, and inspiring meetings and connections with people.
Then one day in that month of August 2013, although I have shown symptoms probably related to AxSpa before that date (read my series of article on my diagnosis here), my right foot started to swell and felt tender. It was not the first time I had problem with this right foot, but this time it got out of control. It kept going, with pain, swollen toes, and redness all over the skin.
A lot going on
I remember I was preparing to move house beginning of September, and then fly to France for some holidays. I was also having a break of drama school after two years there. I had to quit that acting program before the final year (Diploma level) because I could not afford to train for that without working on the side. And I had a career in science. I did cost me to stop that training, because I loved acting and I was good at it.
That Summer I also had a breakup that was difficult to handle. So really, if I look back at that period of my life, after living a happy, busy, exciting life, things were ending with or without my consent in a way. And it did bring some strong emotions, as I was not very good at transitioning, dealing with goodbyes and moving on. I get very attached, emotionally bound to situations, places, people. I did not realize that I was dealing with an important transition and that hit me.
Emotional shifts and triggers
Over these years, between my first symptom and the year of my diagnosis, I went through a series of events which impacted me emotionally, probably more than I anticipated or thought. At the time of course, I did not make any link between those events and my symptoms. I read one day that an emotional shock or significant life event can be the trigger for AxSpa to come out and flare.
I think that is my case, having an immune system that was already susceptible to dysfunction, with the stress my system got off balanced and tried to compensate, only too well to end up being too powerful.
I think that those scars that I have collected along the way through life have contributed to my illness. But that is very different from saying that I have given myself AxSpa. It is very important for me to be clear about that, as it has helped me to accept my diagnosis, and recognize that I can do things to live better with AxSpa. I am also curious about the context and what trigger of AxSpa symptoms, at the beginning of the journey or anytime when I get a flare.
I remember reading with great interest on this AxSpa.net site stories of people who faced a breakout of their symptoms as they were changing environment, moving countries, going through a transition. I welcome any reflection or testimony about your own experience of how symptoms started for you. Have you notice a pattern or any life circumstances which makes you understand better what triggers AxSpa?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?