Recently there was a post about how saying “I don’t let MS stop me” is harmful to other MS suffers l, but I disagree. Hearing those words from other people actually helped me. I didn’t know I had MS until menopause hit and I had one attack after another. Previously any attack I had was diagnosed as a different problem and eventually my body worked around them. Very few were major issues but over the 5 years since menopause I have gone from walking 3 miles a day to a hobble. My right leg collapses and my right eye won’t focus for close work. Having my body self destruct after trusting it for 55 years was a shock. I credit the advice given to me by the two women I knew who first advised and inspired me. A colleague told me that when she was first diagnosed she gave up for months almost a year. So when she finally decided to fight back she had list a lot of ground and it was so hard to regain it. She said if she had kept striving the MS would still be there but she would have been better mentally and physically. She advised me to always keep trying. The other woman was an inspiration. She can no longer walk with out a walker, fallen several times and broken bones, she has problems with her sight and for days on end can’t see. With all this you would think she would give up, but she hasn’t. She may not be able to do what she is trained for but she found a job she can do from home where they are accepting of the fact that she can’t work 8 hours straight and that some mornings she can’t see. She is active in community and church groups and even found a boyfriend after her MS became debilitating. She doesn’t let MS stop her from having a full and happy life. It isn’t the life she thought she would have but she is not giving up and making it work. This is why no one who says “I won’t let MS stop me” should ever feel guilty. You can inspire others who might feel like their lives are over. It’s not about what you can and can not do, it’s about doing the best you can.
I want to share something that recently inspired me to keep up the struggle. I was lucky enough to hear Shannon Huffman Polson, Author of the Grit Factor speak. She was the first female Apache Fighter Helicoptor pilot. I wish ther was a way everyone on this list could experience the presentation, but I can at least share what I found to be high points. She spoke about what it takes to pull through in trying times and gives techniques that I thought very helpful. First Drill down to your core values, what gives your life meaning. I liked walking 3 miles a day but that isn’t what gives my life meaning. I can still do activities that express my core values. She also talked about how doing something hard helps you to be able to do something hard again. It’s not physical conditioning (though athletes know that helps) but mental conditioning. Every day when I get out of my car in the 90+F degree heat and waddle into work I have to draw on my will to try even if I don’t succeed, because I know occasionally I do. Her 3rd topic was grounded optimism. It’s not believing that tomorrow there will be a treatment to reverse the damage, but believing that some day there will be, even if not for you. Holding on to that thought still find a way to live a fulfilled life. Finally she suggested a technique psychiatrist say actually helps every day, at least once but more frequently, remind yourself what you are grateful for.