Why I Do What I Do
I was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015 and ever since then I have slowly found myself working in the advocacy space. It was not something I ever expected to do. It was not an aspiration of mine to share my private thoughts and issues with other people living with MS. However, I do feel a good obligation to help others through our journey as much as possible. With each project, I learn more about myself and the fire to continue down this road only grows. So, why do I do what I do?
My easy path
I have talked at length about how I was diagnosed with MS. It was a surprise that started with a nosebleed. That led me to a follow-up at the emergency room where I left about two and a half hours later with a chronic illness. I was definitely shocked since I did not have any of the symptoms most commonly listed. Before I had the chance to find a second opinion I was sent to the University of Colorado's Neurology department, one of the best in the country. From there I was connected with wonderful, caring people who have guided me along the way.
An MS diagnosis isn't always easy
Over the years I have been privileged to hear the stories of other MS warriors. The vast majority are from people who've had years of back and forth in the healthcare system. Many had tales of doctors who doubted their pains and even suggested that it was all in their heads. I was spared that fate. While being blindsided with a chronic illness diagnosis was like a big old chunk of fruit dropped on my head, it was nothing compared to the bumpy journey of others. It pains me to know that people with MS have already traveled a long road with more ahead. Because my path has been paved with new materials I have an obligation to do what I can to help others.
Getting over myself
Putting myself out there has not been easy. While I appear extroverted to most, I am an extremely private person who has shunned any sort of spotlight. I preferred to work behind the scenes and to keep my issues to myself. My talkative nature was more about connecting intellectually. My curiosity played out in my interest in people and what was going on with them. I was, and am, comfortable sharing ideas and thoughts. Deeply personal feelings were just that. Deeply personal. Never did I think that I would be slowly sharing my story, the good and the bad and the constipated.
Getting started with MS advocacy
Multiple sclerosis changed all of that. Suddenly, I knew I had to drop many of my personal walls and cowboy up. I learned that my chattiness could translate into speaking with other MSers and making an occasional appearance on a podcast or Zoom. My enjoyment of writing could turn into writing about my experiences with multiple sclerosis. My own discomfort could be turned into a positive for others. I decided to get out of my own way to try to help others. My work with trying to get more African-Americans into MS research has been my primary way of giving back.
Finding my purpose
I grew up assuming I would be a lawyer. So did everyone else. My father is an attorney, my mom was a paralegal, my uncle is an attorney, and my half-brother is a judge. I worked in law libraries and read appeals cases for fun (I still do). Law seemed to run in my veins. Well, at 27 years old (hmmm...that age is a common theme in my life) I decided that I did not want to be a lawyer. I discovered that after delaying the LSAT and law school applications. I can close my eyes and still remember sitting there with a University of Texas application and having an epiphany. No. Law school was not for me.
What followed was years of jobs that allowed my collect a variety of skills, but they were not fulfilling and certainly not a career. I never had a job I liked. Never. I never woke up happy to walk into the office. I did like my colleagues, for the most part, and I rarely hated the work. I was not doing what I was meant to do. It was through multiple sclerosis that I found my purpose.
My truth, my MS
My purpose is to help others in whatever way I can. MS forced me to stand in my own truth to discover who I am and why I am here on Earth. It is not the purpose I expected or knew from day one. It was something I came to know for myself through the process of living with MS and meeting my comrades in chronic illness. I do what I do because it is what I was meant to do and I am cool with that.
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