For the 1 in 200 men, and the 1 in 500 women that suffer with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) in the UK, guilt is something that plagues us as much as pain does at times. Take my day for instance, guilt, self-pity and loathing was the common theme throughout. For the sake of this post lets just stick to the guilt, don’t want to spoil you too much.
To start off I am going through a rough time at the moment, which unfortunately has meant I haven’t been to work all week. Now I’m not claiming I enjoy my work so much that I wish I was there, but nor do I hate my work and glad I wasn’t. I work with a small team of people, so when I’m not there the extra workload for my colleagues is greater. I hate this! We often talk about AS being an invisible illness, and how people sometimes don’t understand that yes we are ill even though we don’t look it. For me this works both ways. The days I can’t walk as my pain stops me from weight baring, there is no guilt. However on the days like today, when I can walk, I can carry out “normal” day-to-day functions there is most definitely guilt. Deep down I know I couldn’t fulfil my work responsibilities safely, but the combination of my need to be in control, stubbornness and caring nature just accumulate to amplify my guilt.
Now reading that you may say I am justified for feeling guilty, or you my be of the opinion that I shouldn’t feel guilty as it’s something out my immediate control. Whichever your view, does guilt always have to be substantiated? Is it not part of human nature to be this way. Guilt is part of our complex system of emotions that make us unique. I’m sure you’ll tell me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t each one of our emotions serve the biological function of self-preservation? Emotions like anger, fear, love and contempt are pretty straight forward in their role in self-preservation. But what of guilt? What function does this fulfill? Apart from making us feel pretty shitty, and increasing our already elevated stress levels.
There are several other things that made me feel guilty today. Although, as open as I am they are too personal to share. What I will say is, isn’t it amazing how several little feelings of guilt add up to more than the sum of their parts? Or is that just something I experience?
So can guilt be turned into a positive? I’m intrigued to know your thoughts.