Loving yourself isn’t easy for the ankylosing spondylitis patient. Our bodies are literally tearing ourselves apart, and there isn’t much we can do about it.
Sorry, I know it sucks!
I used to be fit, I used to stand up straight, I used to sleep through the night, I used to get by on one cup of coffee, and I used to have a lot more hair!
Ankylosing spondylitis took away all those things. Plus I'm almost 40 (good golly)! It’s probably all downhill from here…Good night everyone, we had a good run, I'll collect my things.
It’s not all over! We MUST learn to love ourselves!
A delightful touch of narcissism
I'm staring out with the big one. There’s no turning back now. I LOVE MYSELF! I’m the bees knees, the big cheese, Jed Finley Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”. I take a lot of selfies, and use flattering filters (if needed), because I think I am perfect in every way.
To those who didn’t get sick to your stomach, I thank you for sticking around. I like to practice outward-in thinking. My insides are a tangle of frayed wires and cracked drywall. I can’t control that.
But, my outside is “Falling Water.” An architectural masterpiece. This is what I choose to focus on.
Whether or not this is true, I find thinking like this to be necessary. We unfortunately have little control over what’s going on in our bodies with AS. We take our meds and try to live healthy, but it’s far from a solution.
Looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking “I look amazing!” is something you can control. Even if you just woke up, your hair is tangled, your eyes are puffy, and, like me, you have a CPAP ring and strap marks on your face, you are still able to look and say “I look great!” It’s not easy, I know, but learning to love your outsides is just as important as loving your insides.
Celebrate your accomplishments
You know how your parents told you not to brag and be humble.. yeah, mine too...And you know what?
I didn’t listen. I love myself and I want everyone to know it, and I want them to know why.
Yes, It sometimes borders on just plain annoying, and I am quite sure a few people have wished I’d just shut up, but seriously, I don’t care. It makes me feel good.
I’ve met Hulk Hogan, I’ve lived in Vietnam, I was an award-winning radio talk show host, I write for AnkylosingSpondylitis.net! All of these things I am super proud of, and are threads in the beautiful tapestry that is my life.
It’s not arrogance, or bragging, it’s realizing that you are pretty amazing and not being afraid to let other people know it.
Like I said, it is easy to enter the world of “annoying” if you don’t control your self-pride. Don’t take up the conversation with how freaking amazing you are, but know there is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and what you have done.
It might even inspire more people to find pride in themselves.
Be Who You Want To Be
I won’t lie, I am so much cooler online.
My Twitter and Instagram are a Mecca of self-love. Online, I am beautiful, confident, and someone you should totally know.
Truthfully, I am not all that confident. Or, at least, I didn't used to be. I used to be, and still am a little, riddled with social anxiety and self-doubt. I didn't think I could do anything right, and didn't think I was worth knowing. But, that all changed with the birth of social media.
I learned I could toss up a good picture of myself, and act like I have any idea what I am talking about. It was not me, but after a few years I figured out something. It was me!
I played the character of the cool guy who has all the answers, and people actually believed it! Eventually, after enough people subscribed to my persona, and started tossing a couple compliments, my online persona became my real persona. I just needed to get out there, workshop a little, and realize that I am pretty awesome!
The best part is, the chronic illness community online, especially the AS community, is amazing. If you are feeling low and not like the person you should be, there will be people out there who will love you and all your awesomeness!
You are worthy
Yes, our bodies are broken, we are in pain, and sometimes we just feel unworthy of love. But, that does not have to be your reality.
A lot of what I wrote about is self-flattery, bragging, and a little bit of acting, but those shouldn't be seen as only bad things. If you can change your mindset to see yourself in a different, more positive light, why wouldn't you?
Please, don't puff up your chest so much that you take up all the air, but don’t deflate yourself either.
You are worthy of knowing and you are worthy of love.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?