How Strong is the Mind?
My journey with AS has taken me from an all-time low to an all-time high. From receiving two hip replacements and not being able to run for 20 years to finishing a half marathon. But what changed? What did I learn about me and my disease on my journey over the last thirty years? I can tell you that on my low days a half marathon didn’t come up as a goal for the future.
I received my diagnosis when I was fifteen. At that age I couldn’t really conceive what having AS would mean for me. What would my future look like? The only examples that I had were an uncle in his sixties and a neighbor in her seventies. Both with fused spines my uncle walked hunched over and my neighbor was in a wheelchair. Knowing that that could happen their story became my story in a way. A picture of me in a wheelchair got placed in my subconscious. And unconsciously I started walking that way. I didn’t see a future where I could accomplish anything. I couldn’t see myself worthy of a good life. With a future view like that, I started to act accordingly and took less good care of myself.
Changing the narrative
That old view was placed in my subconscious for twenty years. It wasn’t until I came across books and documentaries that talked about the power of the mind that I started to change my story. I installed a new view for my future over the last three years. I made a vision board with pictures of places that I would once love to visit. Materialistic things that I wish to own. And a picture of a healthy body. I wrote down what I wanted my future to look like. For a long period, I focused on that new future. Better health, better career, and a better love life.
The first period felt a bit weird. I was talking to myself and I had no idea if it would work. The old program of my future view was so stuck in my head that installing a new view took a lot of time. But I kept believing that it would work. And I kept saying to myself that me in a couple of years would thank me for staying on this new path. Eventually, things started to change. The urge to work on myself became stronger and stronger. I started going to the gym and kept a healthier diet. I went full focus on becoming the best me I could possibly be. Blocking out all negative influences from my life. No more watching the news. I did everything to get myself in a more positive state of mind.
The new me
Now I’m not yet where I wish to be but, I’m also not where I used to be. Last year the big shift became visible. In six months I got to not knowing that I could run to completing a half marathon. Even though I did fitness before that time it was still a huge win for me. I’m happy to be on this journey and I wish to see where my mind will take me next.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?