How MS Has Aged Me
MS has aged me. I’m not talking about your typical aging - crow’s feet, wrinkled hands and bad hips; when I say that MS has aged me, I mean it has given me an old soul. I am young; I recently turned 26 in October, so really I am just on the cusp of adulthood. However, being diagnosed with MS at just 14 has truly aged my spirit. Being told you have an incurable disease at such a young age really affects your life.
My teenage years were troubling
These kinds of experiences have the impact to either make or break you, and for a while, my diagnosis broke me. I went through a lot during my teenage years - you can read more about that in previous articles. While a lot of those choices I made in my teenage years I wish I could take back, I’m also glad I went through them in a way. Those choices taught me important life lessons.
Deciding to face my diagnosis
They taught me my self-worth, and that you truly cannot judge someone based on looks alone. While I looked and acted like a normal adolescent, I struggled deeply to find out why such things were happening to me and how I was going to let them impact my life. It wasn’t until I went through college and really dug deep into researching my MS that I finally decided it would no longer impact my life in a negative way. It’s as if I finally woke up one day and decided, after years of issues, that I was going to take this diagnosis and face it head-on. This decision changed my life. It has given me a decent handle on who I am, the things I am good at, and the things I love, value, and adore. It has also taught me how I want to live.
I used to worry endlessly about how others viewed me. It took me years of my life to finally admit to myself and the world that I had a disease. But now, I’m not at all apologetic about it. It has given me the confidence to no longer tiptoe through my own life, doubting my place or my worth. I no longer wait for others' permission to live my life; now is my time, and I own my choices, past and present.
Free to be me
I also no longer worry about what everyone else around me is doing or accomplishing. I was so worried in the past about other people’s success that it literally stole joy from me for years. Now, I am free to be me, without anything (especially my disease or others' opinions of it) holding me back. I have officially developed resiliency. In the past, criticism, conflict, and the fear of disapproval paralyzed me. I let others' thoughts and opinions rule my life and keep me from going the distance. What others do and say really doesn’t matter in the long run. In my opinion, now if people don’t like me or what I do, then so be it. Differences of opinions no longer rock my world, and fear of criticism of who I am or the life I lead doesn’t send me away defeated.
Living with gratitude despite my rough start
I have settled into this life - the good days and the bad. This life, with my husband, my son, my family and friends - it’s beautiful. I now have chosen to live with gratitude and a thankful heart that although I may have had a rough start, the grace and love of others and the God that I serve has saved me. I want the rest of my days to contain happiness, laughter, grace, strength, and security. Comparison to others will no longer rob me of the happiness I have.
Finding your balance and rhythm
So sure, life isn’t always the wonderful carnival ride you dreamed it would be, but I promise once you find the confidence and security I have, you won’t go back. MS and all diseases alike are a hard pill to swallow, but they are also full of life lessons. I can assure you, once you find yourself and you find the perfect balance and rhythm with life and everything it hands you then you’ll learn the greatest life lessons. You’ll stand taller, laugh louder, and enjoy the small things. Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?