People who live with chronic pain understand when I say that life often gets in the way of living. They understand that coping on a daily basis with pain sometimes is a full-time profession. We can become so preoccupied with minimizing our various physical challenges that life simply passes us by. Any plans to enjoy the too-short summer are shelved while we minister to limitations imposed by our arthritis and its associated inflammatory conditions. Instead of planning outdoor fun activities, we spend our days looking for ways to be comfortable, or trying to find the balance between moving too much or too little.
Those of us with ankylosing spondylitis can easily become discouraged as we face new physical and emotional issues with the waxing and waning of this disease. New problems crop up (seemingly overnight) and remaining optimistic in the face of uncertainty (and pain) during AS flares is a tough act. Discouragement is a common experience as AS takes you on a bewildering and mysterious journey.
Faced with discouragement, it is natural to withdraw and protect yourself, at all costs. Successful people – many of them professional athletes – will tell you that overcoming repeated failures (and challenges) eventually led them to success. They plugged away, in spite of their struggles and defeats, and persistence paid off in the long run. The message is that they believed in themselves, which went a long way to helping them overcome hard times. Not easy to believe in oneself when sitting, walking, standing, or lying down all revolve around some kind of hurt.
Every person develops his or her own coping mechanisms – hopefully positive ones – in the face of adversity. I recently came across an expression that resonated with me for its simple wisdom and guidance: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” My hope is that in sharing this message, you too will be able to adopt a new attitude or change your approach to life and living.