My 10-year Anniversary With AS – 10 Insights Gained
Wow! Just writing this title feels strange.
Strange to think that it has now been 10 years since the onset of my AS symptoms and the beginning of a wild, messy and meaningful journey.
10 years ago, I was scared, anxious, in a lot of pain, with fear of the future and anxiety about my next steps.
10 years later I am confident about my path, managing AS well and living vibrantly. I am constantly learning to adapt to best support my body and mind.
A journey of learnings
Below, I am sharing 10 insights I have gained over the past 10 years. A summary of some of my personal learnings and experiences, and now supported with my health coaching work. I hope this can help those of you currently going through a difficult flare, those of you newly diagnosed, or those of you working on finding your own approach.
The diagnosis is important, but it is just the beginning
While it was helpful to finally know what was going on and have the right doctors to address questions, I now know that it was only the beginning of a very long journey of self-discovery. It meant I could work on a plan, define my priorities and what I wanted to explore.
Follow your intuition
Quickly after the diagnosis, I started looking into treatment options, different practitioners, and how to best approach the next steps in my life. One thing I have consistently worked on is to learn to trust my intuition for all these important decisions. It needs to feel right and in tune with who I am and what I stand for. Trust your intuition, trust you gut feeling, they are often right.
Build your support network
This is so important especially in the early stages. With all the fear and negative emotions surrounding the diagnosis, I quickly surrounded myself with the people I knew would support me. It wasn’t a big group, but a powerful group that takes and appreciates me as I am and is there through the ups and downs. Family, close friends, boyfriend, a community such as this one!
It's OK to ask for help
While I had a rheumatologist at first, I felt that I needed additional help to navigate through everything. Over the years, I have experimented working with various practitioners across the conventional and functional/alternative fields (nutritionist, naturopath, therapist, massage and physical therapist, coach). Something I will continue to do for the next 10 years as well! (also part of #3 and building your support network).
A pivotal moment on my healing journey came when I started to work on my mindset. I challenged and reframed the negative thoughts. I no longer wanted to feel defeated by this condition, but rather accept the message. What did this all mean? How could I best support my physical and mental health? What was in my control? What strengths could I draw from? All these questions gave me a positive force, realizing that I had the opportunity to be proactive and become the best advocate possible for my health.
More to come in Part 2!
How long was your longest flare?