With every cloud comes a silver lining.
Living with a syndrome that challenges the structural integrity of every tissue in the body can make it hard to look on the bright side, let alone focus on any small benefits of hEDS (Hypermobility Type Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). As with everything in life however, managing hEDS can be made easier by having a quality sense of humour.
Benefits of hEDS
1. We have pathologically smooth, velvety skin. Expensive creams aren't needed to keep our skin looking young and smooth as we age. Although our joints degenerate and age quicker than our peers, our appearance remains youthful.
2. We tend to have large, glowing eyes and high cheekbones, traits that are largely sought-after in the beauty industry.
3. We appear to be "totally normal", just like everybody else. We’re not inherently sick, and others can see our hypermobility when we perform certain activities but to the naked eye nobody can see that we live with collagen that lacks the structural integrity of most.
4. We make great company at possibly any and all hours of the night: Due to frequent subluxations, higher levels of adrenaline, and poor sleep quality, we’re often up in the night and the distraction of chatting with someone we love is generally welcome.
5. We’re bendy. While this bonus flexibility comes with a host of problems (to say the least), using it to accomplish tasks with our feet such as reaching for a light switch or "handing" something to ourselves without bending over is no problem at all. Above-average arm length is also one of the random benefits of hEDS, so reaching the top shelves is possible even if you're not inherently tall. If properly trained, we could all theoretically have great careers in the circus... though given our collagen, this is unsurprisingly not recommended for joint-longevity.
6. We have stretchy bladders. While this can be both a pro and con, it has the potential to be camel-like in nature for some, allowing us to go extended periods of time without a trip to the washroom- particularly helpful when traveling.
7. We are highly sensitive to our environment. Based entirely on how our tissues are feeling, we may be better able to predict a cold front, humidity spike, or incoming storm than the local weather station (I guess that's not saying much...)
8. One of the most polarizing benefits of Hypermobility EDS is that our bodies can change their behaviour dramatically in a short time period. Although frustrating at times, this also has the potential to create greater mental flexibility and spur creativity in how we approach life, knowing that every day can bring about change and the need for a new strategy.
9. We can develop great attunement to the needs of our bodies. It can be mentally tiring to monitor posture constantly and have to create constant muscular tension to keep joints in place, but with practice we ultimately develop acute awareness of our most important needs to avoid bigger problems. We have no choice but to take ownership of the food, rest, and movement we choose given that the impact of these choices will always be felt acutely.
10. We become better at finding the silver linings and appreciating the little things. When subluxations cause us to randomly loose function of a joint (or joints), celebrating a return to function is one of the many little life highlights we begin to appreciate. Having days with higher energy, greater mental focus, lower pain, and good digestion are inspiration enough to get through the tougher ones knowing they too shall pass.
As you can tell, the benefits of hEDS are largely tongue-in-cheek, but the moral of the story is as follows: there is always a choice to feel victimized by our genetics, or we can work with them and choose to be our own heroes. Every person in this world lives within certain restrictions or limitations and we can choose to focus on the negative or bask in the opportunities that are given each day. Although the direct benefits of hEDS are few and far between, with the right approach every day is worth living.