I find the process of writing a blog very therapeutic, staying positive about my diagnosis by renaming my MS to stand for Mental Strength. I have had positive days, albeit very few and far between, but I’ve had more days where I have felt lower than I could ever have possibly imagined. I started to let MS beat me and define who I was. I couldn’t see any good qualities in me anymore as I was always so down; I only noticed the negatives about me and about how my MS was making me feel, I didn’t have Mental Strength at all. I was diagnosed with a mild form of ‘Relapsing Remitting MS’ in the beginning but as time went on and my symptoms never went away completely, the doctors informed me it was not as mild as they first thought. I started thinking about when I used to get dizzy spells 10-15 years ago that would cause me to stop whatever I was doing and hold onto something until it passed. I started thinking maybe I have had this lot longer than I’ve been diagnosed for. I read up about my diagnosis in more detail and there it was, in black and white on the screen in front of me. Something that I had never been told by the specialists but I assumed would apply to me in the future:
“Most people with relapsing remitting MS will eventually develop secondary progressive MS”.
For somebody who suffers with crippling anxiety, it started getting me down so much that I would wake every morning wondering whether my symptoms would be worse today or if I was having a relapse. I would randomly start crying for no apparent reason throughout the day; reading the kids a bedtime story, even at work, in the toilets or on my lunchbreak. Then I emailed Emma one day and asked if I could write another blog post to try and channel my thoughts onto paper to see if that lifted me, there’s something about getting your thoughts out of your head somehow, whether it be writing them down or talking to someone, that seems to work. If I start writing down how I feel I seem to find a solution that my head just wouldn’t think of if I was just thinking in my head, I need to think outside of my head….if that makes any sense at all!!
So what I have discovered by “thinking outside of my head” is this: Yes I will have an incurable disease that could deteriorate for the rest of my life but I have to think of the reasons why I’m grateful for having MS. Looking at the positives of having MS. It has made me a whole lot healthier and fitter in terms of diet and exercise (addiction to chocolate aside), which in turn, has made me stronger physically (despite the MS attacking my nervous system and giving me numbness, dizziness and vision problems), which makes me feel as if I’m fighting back. I’ve met some lovely people through forums and friends of friends who act as a support network and help you realise you’re not alone in the MS world. And, now this is an odd one, in a roundabout way it has actually made me more feminine. I’m a tomboy at heart, always have been always will be, growing up playing football with the boys (and fellow tomboys) when I was younger, but now I’m exercising more, my worst feature, which has always been my legs, has now become a favourite feature of mine which has resulted in me buying (sorry bank balance) and wearing more dresses.
The advice I have taken on board the most is that you can’t change what life throws at you but you can change your response to it. I didn’t want MS but MS chose me so I have to learn to live the life I have now the best I can possibly make it, so if I do relapse or deteriorate I can hold my head up high and know that I have lived each and every day to the best of my ability. MS has taken the person I used to be and made me a stronger and braver person and I can only appreciate that.
I’ve made it this far, I won’t give up on myself now.
*written 18th August 2017 for Old Town Hypnotherapy