During my adolescent years, I encountered the biggest challenge that would change the course of my entire life. I thought it was the end of the world but that is not the whole story.
I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) at 14 years old, almost during my adolescent years. This scoliosis diagnosis meant that my spinal column had a slight yet defined abnormal curvature that simple stretching or walking with books on top of my head could not fix.
Yes, I understood how unbelievable this scoliosis diagnosis sounded to many. When I mentioned the scoliosis diagnosis to my friends and their parents, they even said, “Get out of here! You’re just pulling our legs, and we’re not falling for it, sister.”
They only believed that I had scoliosis when I turned my body back and asked them to trace my spinal curvature. Most of them didn’t know what to say immediately after that, except for one who exclaimed, “Dang, it was like a snake in there!”
Despite that comment, my friends cared for me throughout middle school up to high school. They didn’t treat me like a child which helps in managing stress and my mental health.
Whenever my back and spine hurt from carrying a bag full of books for too long, they took turns holding it for me. They often asked how I was, too, especially when we were doing exhausting things for P.E. classes. E.g., running, volleyball, basketball, etc.
The Real Problem
Some people thought that my life was still relatively easy, even though I was dealing with my scoliosis diagnosis. After all, I had never been bullied because of scoliosis, and everyone wanted to give me moral support.
However, because of my scoliosis, I needed to quit cheerleading, which had been a massive part of my life for as long as I could remember.
Being a teenager, having a scoliosis diagnosis made me question my status and body image at school. I used to be among the cool kids at school because I was poised to become a head cheerleader, you see.
People knew my name or the girl who could more flip in the air than you could count. Then, when I left cheerleading, I realized that that’s all I was. I did not join any other club; my grades were only a little above average, too.
It was an identity and self-image crisis that I did not have time to prepare for. In truth, I made up a few excuses for months to avoid going to school because of that.
I felt like drowning in worries about my mental health after scoliosis diagnosis, and I could hardly come up for air. I didn’t have any emotional support to process my thoughts and feelings which didn’t do any good about my mental health.
My mother eventually caught up in my alibis. I thought that she would ground me for life due to how much she scolded me that day, but she ended up hugging and crying with me.
She said, “I disagree with your methods, but I understand why you’ve done what you did. I just wish you had told me about it early.”
This revelation did me more good, especially on my mental health than I could ever imagine. It allowed me to see how I could keep my mental health intact despite having scoliosis.
Stop Thinking Negatively About Scoliosis
The first thing I did for my mental health was recalibrate my brain. Just like other severe cases of scoliosis, the diagnosis caused me to think about everything negatively.
For instance, when I was no longer a cheerleader, I assumed that no one would know me or want to get to know me because of my scoliosis diagnosis. Whenever my friends offered their help, I thought that they were doing it out of pity because I have a scoliosis diagnosis.
Instead of thinking like that, I tried to tell myself that I could still be known for other things, such as academics and other sports. I also pushed away the feeling of helplessness that always lurked inside me and welcomed my loved ones’ help.
I figured that if scoliosis happened to them, I would have done the same because we all loved each other.
Work Around Scoliosis
When I got diagnosed with scoliosis, I honestly thought that I could never do any physical activity again. As my friend mentioned above, my spine curved like a snake and that has negatively affected my physical strength, and they were correct.
In my mind, it meant that I could not be a part of a human pyramid anymore and that I would have to watch my diet now because exercising was out of the picture.
However, during one of my scoliosis checkups, the doctor noticed one of my physical symptoms such as my weight gain due to stress eating, and he wasn’t happy about the possible development of an eating disorder.
The reason was that my spinal curvature might worsen if I had more fat than the muscles in my body. Based on numerous studies, he suggested doing core exercises that would not require me to be on my feet.
I must say it was a tough challenge at first given my scoliosis and considering I was too scared to feel pain and hurt my back further. Over time, though, I learned how to work around my scoliosis diagnosis and strengthen my body.
Try Not To Disobey The Doctor’s Orders After Scoliosis Diagnosis
It also helped that I talked to the doctor before I tried anything or considered scoliosis surgery. Aside from the conservative treatment of medication for my scoliosis treatment, they gave me an idea of how to live to the max, even if I might need to deal with scoliosis for a long while. They even had previous scoliosis patients willing to talk to new patients like me and practically inform us that the diagnosis wouldn’t alter our lives if we didn’t allow it.
Final Thoughts After Scoliosis Diagnosis
I was in emotional limbo from my mental health problems for six whole months. I regretted having mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, happen to me, but I could only move forward and try to make the most of everything to improve my quality of life.
Hopefully, you, as another member of the general population, find enlightenment during your darkest moments, too. Good luck!
Scoliosis Diagnosis FAQs
Can Scoliosis Affect Your Mental Health?
Scoliosis can indeed affect your mental health. The visible physical changes, potential pain, and the social challenges associated with this condition can lead to self-esteem issues, anxiety, and even depression. Coping with scoliosis may require emotional support and self-acceptance, and seeking help from healthcare professionals or support groups can be essential for maintaining good mental well-being in addition to managing the physical aspects of the condition.
Can AIS Make You Depressed?
Certainly. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) can lead to depression, with symptoms such as self-consciousness about physical changes, chronic pain related to the scoliosis curve, social withdrawal, and heightened stress due to scoliosis treatment. Seeking help from a healthcare professional is vital for addressing and managing depression related to AIS.
Can People With AIS Lead A Normal Life?
Yes, individuals with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) can lead normal lives. With proper treatment and pain management, including options like wearing a brace, physical therapy, and scoliosis surgery when necessary, they can pursue education, careers, physical activities, and social interactions like anyone else. The key is early diagnosis and appropriate medical care to support their spinal health and overall well-being.
Can AIS Cause Mood Swings?
How Do People With AIS Feel?
How Does AIS Affect Daily Life?
Can People With AIS Lead A Normal Life?
How Do People With AIS Feel?
Individuals with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) may experience concerns about their spine curvature, leading to self-consciousness and, at times, discomfort. Adolescents, in particular, may worry about their appearance and its impact on social interactions. Over time, with support, many develop resilience and find ways to manage both the condition and their confidence in their spinal health, addressing any related health issues that may arise.
How Does AIS Affect The Mind?
What Should I Avoid If I Have AIS?
What Triggers AIS?
How Do You Calm AIS?
Is Milk Good For AIS?
How Can I Stop AIS From Growing?
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) cannot be completely stopped, but it can be managed to slow its progression. Regular medical check-ups, physical therapy, bracing if necessary, maintaining good posture, exercising, and adopting a balanced diet are all important as treatment scoliosis strategies. In severe cases or when the curvature progresses significantly despite conservative treatments, spinal fusion surgery may be considered as a treatment option. Consulting a scoliosis specialist is crucial for personalized guidance, especially when spinal fusion surgery is being considered. While AIS may not be entirely preventable, these measures can help manage the condition, maintain spinal health, and improve the quality of life.