Being Positive About Diagnosis In A Negative World
It’s taken me eleven years of my life to work up the nerve to openly tell others about my multiple sclerosis. Part of me was embarrassed and ashamed, another part did not like explaining it, but the main reason was because people are so darn negative!! It’s hard telling others you have a disease because, 1. People jump to conclusions that everyone who has it are all the same, 2. Their mom’s friend has it and she can no longer walk or see, so that must be what is definitely going to happen to you too (eye roll), and 3. They assume you’re going to die. I have news for you people—NOT ONE person who has MS exhibits exactly the same symptoms as another. Can we relate in many ways? Is it helpful and a sense of comfort to know others go through the same things we do? YES, absolutely, but the symptoms are different for everyone and we are all effected by MS differently as well.
Being diagnosed at only fourteen, of course it was hard not to be negative and ultimately feel defeated. As you’ve probably read in my bio, I had a rough start after hearing my diagnosis. Mostly though, I was in complete and utter denial. I have figured out a thing or two over the past eleven years though—you can either sit and sulk over your diagnosis-thinking life as you know it is over, you can let the symptoms and everything difficult that comes along with MS defeat you and your dreams-OR you can make the best of it and continue living the life you have always wanted despite your illness. As I mentioned in my first article, But You Don’t Look Sick, my illness is mostly invisible to others. Other than a tremor every now and then I look physically normal and healthy. I am blessed and grateful to say that my disease has not progressed since I was diagnosed, and I owe a lot of that to my doctors for being extremely thorough and finding it so early on. But, that doesn’t mean I have not fully come to grips with the fact that someday it might progress. I have finally come to the realization that one day my MS might progress, and I may not be able to walk or do other things that I love. I had to stop lying to myself and just say, if it happens, it happens. There is nothing I can do about it, unfortunately. Yes, that scares me-but I can’t let that fear rule my life. Right now, in this moment, I can walk just fine and I have no other visible symptoms—so you better believe I’m going to continue living my life to the fullest. One thing is for sure, I don’t take this so-called normal life for granted! I’m beyond thankful to wake up every day and be able to jump out of bed and walk down the hall to scoop up my baby boy-to be able to see him grow up and run joyfully after him. I’m beyond thankful to be able to take complete care of my husband and son, and love them with every piece of me. Life has not always been fair with MS, but I have had to learn to deal with my struggles, and I promise you it didn’t happen overnight. It took years-but that’s OKAY! You can take what life deals you and run with it, or you can let it tear you down, it’s your choice. My choice was to see MS as blessings in disguise-to use my struggles to help others. What will you choose?
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?