Accepting the Truth After All of These Years
It hit me the other day that I’ve had MS for half of the time I’ve been alive. I’m 28, and I was diagnosed when I was 14. And I showed signs of having it long before then. Obviously, I’ve always known how long I’ve had it, but the realization that it’s been a part of my life for half of my existence randomly decided to slap me in the face. It blows my mind to think that I’ve had MS for that long. It saddens me in a way, but what's even sadder is when you’ve had a disease for so long that you begin shaking off symptoms as being normal. New pain? Oh, that’s nothing. So tired you can’t walk? Normal. Tingling in your feet? A thing of the past. That ache in your back? Just another day in the life. The thing is, all of those things feel normal to me.
I don't remember life without MS
I’ve had MS for so long I can’t remember what it was like to be without it. I can’t remember what an actual healthy body feels like. I shake off symptoms as nothing because to me, they’re just an everyday thing that I’ve become used to. There's never a day that’s symptom-free. Even on my best days, there are still signs that MS is there. MS is ever-present. It’s always there no matter how hard I try to turn my back on it. It doesn’t matter how much I ignore it, it’s still lingering. What’s sad to me is how it’s no longer something that bothers me so much as it is just a normal part of every day. I know it’s been there, and it’s not going anywhere, so I’ve just kept moving through the motions without really thinking about it. But, for as long as I’ve had it and as normal as it may seem, it has still been a constant struggle to accept that I’m sick with a disease that has no cure.
I thought I had already accepted it
I think I’ve been confused because for a long time, I have honestly felt like I have accepted it. I've even written about how I thought I've accepted it. I’m positive and happy, and I understand that it’s my life, but it wasn’t until the other day that I realized that maybe I haven’t fully accepted it after all. I’ve made peace with having MS, and I’ve admitted to myself that it’s a huge part of who I am. I’ve stopped fighting the fact that I have a disease. I’ve stopped hiding it and pretending like it doesn’t exist. I’ve admitted to the world that yes, I have MS. And, I’ve found a way to view each day positively. But, accepting it is still a struggle.
It still doesn't feel real
Accepting and admitting may seem like the same thing, but they are slightly different. Admitting typically means to confess, but accepting means believing it to be true. It’s honestly ironic. I’ve felt all of the symptoms, and this disease has caused me more pain and issues than I can tell you, yet it’s still hard for my heart to want to believe that it’s true. I don’t want to believe that I have MS. Fifteen years in, and it still doesn't seem real. It’s like that horse pill you keep trying to swallow, but no matter how hard you try it keeps coming back to the surface. I think it’s hard for me to truly accept it because accepting it feels like defeat. I don’t want to accept MS and become comfortable in staying where I’m at right now.
Live without allowing defeat
I don't want to accept MS and be ok with the fact that my disease most likely will progress and become worse, because who wants that? But, I’ve said from the beginning that I don’t want MS to hold me back. And I know that no matter the circumstances, I want to do my best to not let that happen. I think what I didn't realize before is that acceptance doesn't have to happen overnight. I can take steps each day to accept it, and every day that I take a step towards that is a day closer to full acceptance. So, what I want to say today is that I agree to begin steps to fully accept my MS on one condition: That I continue to live without allowing defeat.
Time to stop fighting acceptance
I’m no longer going to believe that lie. Accepting it should be victorious and should be celebrated. It takes guts to accept the fact that you have an incurable disease. The longer I refuse to fully accept my MS, the more I deny it. And by denying the truth, I can’t formulate a plan to move forward. By taking steps to accept it, I’m giving myself permission to stop fighting what's right in front of me. I can’t deny I have MS, I’ve admitted it to the world, and now it’s time to stop fighting acceptance. But while I’m done fighting accepting the facts, I’m most certainly not done fighting MS. As I said earlier, even though it feels like my normal, its still a tough battle and I'll continue to fight it until I'm no longer able. Today I take my first step to accept MS knowing that I won’t allow it to defeat me, but that I will continue to overcome.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?