Astrology Won't Cure My Chronic Illness
Social media allows us to share information, connect with others, and be entertained. It also allows for the spread of harmful myths and misinformation. Recently, I came across one of these myths in the form of this tweet.
The tweet emphasizes that there is a “mind-body connection with the signs,” referring to astrological signs. It states that “if you have any pain or issues, it is likely stemming from emotional issues, not physical.” A colorful diagram relates astrological signs to different body parts. I skimmed the diagram and found my sign, Sagittarius, which is apparently connected to the hips and thighs. Suddenly, it all made sense…my debilitating hip pain isn’t because I have an autoimmune disease, it’s because I’m a Sagittarius!
My pain is from my AS
Let’s be clear — my pain is not the result of a poor mind-body connection. If that were the case, I would have done something about it instead of living in pain for the past three years. My pain comes from having ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a condition in which my immune system attacks my own joints, leading to inflammation and fusion. The only answer to my pain is medication — mind-body healing just won’t cut it.
It is dangerous to state that “any pain or issues” stem from “emotional issues, not physical.” This perpetuates the idea that all pain is caused by stress, poor mental health, or an inability to control one’s emotions. It discounts the fact that many people, like me, have no control over the bodily pain they experience and its entirely physical causes.
This tweet discounts my pain
I understand that this tweet is not targeted at people with chronic illnesses, but rather at people who are interested in astrology and want to apply its principles to their own lives. Its purpose is not to discount the real, physical pain I live with — but that’s exactly what it does.
This tweet received over a thousand “likes,” which tells me that at least some people believe it. Social media users should think about the implications that their posts have for all people, including those with disabilities. Even if most people can read this tweet knowing that it’s not scientific truth, some people cannot. Then, their misinformed beliefs about pain can be translated into real-life behaviors with real-life effects.
As someone with a chronic illness, reading this tweet was frustrating and invalidating. My experience living with chronic pain was discredited, chalked up as nothing more than a weak mind-body connection. It suggests that my “issues” can be fixed by addressing my emotions, but in reality, nothing can “fix” AS. I need people to know that a lot of pain — including my pain — is caused by genetic factors that are out of my control. I will continue to do everything I can to manage my pain, but getting in touch with my Sagittarius side is not on my list.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?