Woman smiling in cracked mirror reflection

AS and Confidence

I have always thought I was a confident person. I have insecurities about certain things, as most people do, but I feel lucky to have always believed in my self-worth and felt confident in general.

But my confidence was definitely shaken about after I was diagnosed with AS. It wasn’t all at once, the confidence crumble would happen at different times and places.

Many medical appointments, hospital visits, new aches, pains, and suddenly being unable to do the things I had done all my life – it felt like the rug had been pulled from underneath my feet and I’d landed in a mess.

The sudden anxiety was suffocating. It felt like an onslaught of waves that just kept knocking me down when I managed to get back up. And the anxiety managed to leak into most areas of my life.

My confidence that I could be the partner that Kevin wanted and needed began to falter. I felt like I’d falsely advertised as after 6 months into our relationship I started having symptoms and now it had accumulated in this diagnosis. What kind of future could I, would I, give him?

I questioned my career choice

Could I continue to pursue my career in the arts? I had trained in Musical Theatre – had moved countries to do so - and I was getting started. Could I commit to potential shoots and shows when my body was so unpredictable?

How could I be a reliable friend and daughter? At that point, I didn’t know how I would feel on a daily basis. There were many times I felt like I had a new body, and the person I was, was being dismantled.

But in time I found tools that helped me manage

And in some ways, it’s shown me how confident I still am. That I continue to work hard (and it really can be hard work) to maintain my quality of life, fitness levels and to keep going with my career, even when obstacles have forced me to go backwards to end up going forwards.

In some ways I am more confident in knowing that I have so far adjusted and adapted to the challenges, know more often when to push through and when to stop and rest, and be more firm with setting boundaries.

As with life, and AS, the plane of my confidence has not been linear. I am 7 months pregnant and the anxiety has been beating down the door. I mean pregnancy is stressful. AS is stressful. A career as a performer is stressful. And that’s when they are in separate compartments – put them together and cue the tidal wave of being overwhelmed!

And with that my confidence has taken a knock

Confidence in my body and bones being able to handle birth. Confidence in making the best choice. Confidence in how will life be with our little girl and can I do all I need to do for her?

But amongst this turbulence, I take a moment to think – "I went to the gym today." I worked out. I still have confidence in my body and confidence that I will continue to keep working and making sure I do what I can to have the quality of life I want for myself and our family. Confidence that I am strong. And this comforts me when I don’t have the crystal ball.

AS is testing and brutal. It can be a rollercoaster. But you are still you. You now live with this condition. But it’s not who you are.

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