Being Open About Your Chronic Illness
For many of us, our first reaction to being diagnosed with AS or any chronic illness is to try and hide it. We don’t really want to accept that we’ll be sick for the rest of our lives. We don’t want to talk about it because it’s such a big concept to understand. So why would we want to explain it to others who might not understand it or even try?
When I was first diagnosed with AS, it was a very overwhelming feeling. I was reading every website and article I could find online to try and understand what was going on with my body. I only told my family and extremely close friends. As many of us know, it’s hard for the people around us to grasp the fact that we will be in pain for the rest of our lives.
I don’t blame them, it sounds totally crazy and unfair, but that’s our lives now. The people around us are going to have to get used to it just like we do.
The symptoms take a while to get used to
For me personally, I’m very well aware of my symptoms that I deal with and I’m not ashamed of them. I can’t sit or stand for extended periods of time, I get fatigued very easily, some days I need to rest more than others, and many more.
It's especially hard as a young person
As a person that’s 23 years old with AS, I find it’s extremely hard for my peers to understand what I’m going through. It’s difficult for them to imagine that I can’t go out and drink anymore, or go for day trips without having to take many breaks because I’m so fatigued. I don’t hold this against them, it’s definitely not what the majority of twenty-somethings go through. Finding people that at least try to understand what’s going on is what’s key to raising awareness and making this a regular topic of conversation.
I’ve found that ever since being diagnosed and starting to open up more and more about what I go through on a daily basis, people ask more questions. They genuinely want to know more about what it’s like to live with AS.
Opening up about your illness
Being completely transparent and open about a huge part of your life can be difficult. It definitely takes some time to get the courage to do so, so don’t worry if you aren’t ready yet. Make sure you do it on your own time when you’re comfortable.
I started my blog in November, but even before that, I was beginning to be more open on social media about my pain. I wanted to show others what it’s really like to live with daily pain amongst other symptoms. The only way for people to understand fully what we go through is to talk about it more.
It’s incredibly freeing
Being able to talk to others about my chronic illness is what’s really helped me to feel more comfortable. I don’t try to hide anything I go through, and it’s incredibly freeing. If I’m going to a friends’ house and I’m in pain, I’ll bring my hot pack. If I’m going out for the day and need help putting my IcyHot patch on, I’ll ask for help.Normalizing what we go through is the only thing that will help others to understand us and even share what they go through too. Awareness is knowledge, so don’t be afraid to share your story with the people you love.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?