As a (slightly) evolved primate living in the 21st century, I still feel those animalistic instincts surge through my genome once in a while.
The most gravitating of these affecting me lately is my pack instinct, leaving me with a need to feel that I belong. I’m sure you’ve all felt like that at some point.
Feeling part of a community is something that makes us stronger. “Strength in numbers” and the like. But being part of a community has never been easier. In the advanced technological age we live in, we can form communities online through an array of platforms, with a much larger population than most can imagine.
Living with a chronic illness is tough, as it encompasses all aspects of our being; including our emotionally, physically and spiritually well-being. Our support networks play such a pivotal role in helping us, and our loved ones, cope what is a life changing condition. And from personal experience, I can tell you that the larger your community, the easier it gets to stay positive. Even on those dark days that border on apocalyptic.
My greatest feeling of community and belonging came just recently. On November the 5th, I was graciously invited to a reception held by the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) – “Flying the flag for NASS”. This event was put on by NASS to thank the 200 attendees for all their hard work, in supporting them, raising awareness for AS – and of course – for their fund-raising efforts for the charity.
Standing in that room (in the Houses of Parliament no less!!) was one of the most humbling, and spiritually fulfilling moments of my life. As I looked around the room I saw people of all ages, from all walks of life, joined together fighting a debilitating disease – and if only just for a moment – coming out on top!
If experiencing something like that doesn’t inspire you, and doesn’t make you feel like you belong, then maybe you’re not as evolved as you would have hoped, and should join the rest of the monkeys at the zoo.
No matter how old, fit, motivated, or evolved you feel, there’s a vastly huge AS community waiting for you out there. Whether its online, face-to-face, or over the phone, we all have one thing in common – Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Individually AS is our greatest weakness, but when joined together, it is our greatest strength. Let’s all help each other, to help each other.