Being In A Relationship When You Have AS
Since being diagnosed, I’ve been in 2 relationships. As we all know, AS isn’t just physical. A big part of having a chronic illness is having mental illnesses, too. Some days are better than others, but sometimes we can get pretty low.
The beginnings of a relationship
As I’ve said before, I’m completely upfront about what I go through. I tell the person before we even meet what’s going on with me. When we decide to get into a relationship, something that the other person has to think about is whether they can handle my issues as well as theirs.
Of course, to not sound like a bad person, people say that it’s not a big deal. My last relationship started with him telling me that he wanted to help me with my problems because I didn’t deserve to go through it alone. He always told me that AS, depression, and anxiety are happening TO me, and this isn’t ME (which is actually a good way to look at it).
When things start to get tough
A true test of a relationship is going through your first few flares. Sometimes it’s very hard to communicate what’s going on, and what you need from your SO during a flare-up.
For me personally, flare-ups tend to make me depressed. I mourn my life before I got sick and before I had to spend full days in bed. Sometimes I need help walking, getting dressed, and showering just doesn’t feel possible some days.
I can imagine this doesn’t make me too much of a fun person to be around. Sometimes when your body feels like it’s attacking you and on fire, it’s hard to think of the other person in the situation. It’s important to try and take a step back, and realize that your SO is probably trying their best to make you feel better, it’s just hard to see because it’s hard to focus on anything but the pain.
My previous relationship lasted for 4 months. During which my cat passed away, so for the last month of the relationship I was extremely depressed and anxious 24/7.
My ex-boyfriend had decided somewhere in that last month that he could no longer handle my stresses. He broke up with me, in not the kindest way, and I felt extremely angry and upset. I couldn’t help but think “what do you mean you can’t handle my issues, how do you think I feel about my issues?!”
I went down a spiral and ended up in the hospital and receiving ongoing therapy. I’ve since learned a lot about myself, and how to handle my chronic illness and relationships side by side.
My current relationship
Three weeks after the break-up, I met someone new. I wasn’t expecting to meet someone so soon, but sometimes life throws surprises at you. My boyfriend and I had matched up on Tinder back in January, and I had ghosted him for my ex-boyfriend.
That didn’t stop him though, he followed me on Instagram and found my blog and my articles through there. He read up on AS because it interested him. The rest is history.
I’ve had a few flares around him. He’s always asking me if he can get me anything, he’ll massage my back if I have knots in it, and he’ll carry me if it hurts too much to walk.
How therapy has helped me in my relationship
I’ve recently had a lot of health issues. I’ve been on 4 rounds of antibiotics in the last month. Needless to say, I was a little bit of an emotional wreck. I had a few break downs which led to some arguments, and I knew I needed to talk to my therapist about everything.
My therapist is one of the smartest people I know. She reinforced that communication is everything. I need to be able to step back in the moment and realize that I am only thinking about myself. Going from there, I have to communicate what it is I would like from my SO, but to also try and handle my emotions on my own, too.
A relationship is a lot of hard work, but it may be even harder when one (or both) members are dealing with a chronic illness. What are some things you do to communicate with your SO when you’re not feeling well?
Edit: The “current” relationship talked about in this article has since ended.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?