Gratitude Without Silver Linings

We all know that having ankylosing spondylitis is a burden. Sometimes I feel like it’s the gift that I didn’t want, that keeps giving.

With the constant changes to my body happening, and the adjustments to a life with AS, I have found it necessary to try to remain as positive as possible. Having a sunny outlook on life used to come very naturally, and now, more than ever, I feel it’s essential for me to hold on to as I find myself being far more tested physically and mentally – for myself and for the people around me. That doesn’t mean I can’t discuss how I feel, or get frustrated - I just try not to let the negative thoughts get the better of me.

Gratefulness posts on social media

On my Instagram, I like to do gratefulness posts. (They were supposed to be weekly, I’m slipping a little!) Firstly, because I think it’s important to be thankful for the great people and things in our lives, and especially when things are tough, it might brighten our day to think of all the good stuff. The other reason is that when I was first diagnosed, there was so much negative content to be found online, that it made me feel defeated and doomed, so I wanted to create a space where we could discuss the rubbish parts, but always try to find some positivity.

Finding the positives

Even with AS, I have so much to be grateful for in life. I am surrounded by truly incredible people - my fiancé, family, and friends who give me bucket loads of love and support. Even if I don’t call on them with my worries, I know that they would be there for me, without reservation, ready to listen – and that in itself is a huge comfort. I am grateful for all the little, and big wonderful things that happen – from a great audition, a dinner with friends, a good gym session, birthdays, weddings (getting engaged!), cuddles with a cute dog – it all really cheers me on my way.

But that doesn’t mean I have to be grateful for my illness

The saying that "there’s always a silver lining" – doesn’t always have to ring true. After years of trying to find the silver lining in every situation - I have not found a silver lining to having AS. Over the last (almost) 2 years, I have often felt overwhelmed, terrified, full of grief and angered by this seemingly relentless condition, by the procession of symptoms, the endless hospital appointments – and that is ok.

How I manage all these obstacles and emotions, now that, is crucial; and for me, gratitude is one of those tools.

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