Dealing With Who I Was

Last updated: June 2022

Yesterday, while at a routine eye doctor appointment, while waiting for my eyes to dilate, I had a chunk of time to make small talk with my doctor. He knew I had MS (as an eye doctor should) and began asking me not only about it but about my life prior to it.

A comment about the past

After learning about my education and career, he accidentally said something along the lines of “wow, you must have been something!” To which I paused while thinking and then said “I was.” He immediately felt embarrassed and I said don’t worry about it and changed the topic.

This is certainly not the first time this kind of interaction has happened to me, and it definitely won’t be the last. There was a time when this kind of discussion might have gotten me down, but I’m proud to say I’ve moved past that (for the most part), as I hope you can.

Take pride in your past

While this did make me long a little bit for the old me, I tried not to let it get me down. When you are disabled or even just living with a chronic illness and still working, your time before those things are bound to come up. Chances are, it will make you think back to those days when you weren’t sick and wish you were still living them. That’s a common and natural feeling. It’s important to remember that we often look back at the past and remember it being better than it was.

Still, if you were like me and still working, that would 100% be better than not working. I’m just saying try not to sugarcoat your past too much or you run the risk of feeling much worse than you should. Instead of feeling sad that those days are behind me, these days, I simply try to be proud of them. I did OK for myself and that was great. I’m proud of the things I accomplished, but I try not to get stuck thinking about them.

Take pride in your present

While you can be proud of what you accomplished in your past, don’t let that negate the pride you should have for your present. Living with a chronic illness like MS is incredibly difficult. Maybe you can’t work anymore or be as productive as you once were, but you are surviving. Be proud of that. I know what this disease is like and if you are living with even a mild form of it, you should be proud. You are handling more adversity than so many people out there, and even if you feel like your life isn’t as great as it once was, you should still hold your head up high. This having-a-disease-thing is tough. So no matter what your situation in life is, if you are surviving, even if it doesn’t seem like you are doing a good job at it, trust me, you have something to be proud of.

Past and present coexisting

It’s difficult when you feel like your life has been split into two halves because of an illness. I’m a big believer that it’s important to keep moving forward and not dwell on your past. It’s OK to have some pride in what you’ve accomplished back in the day. Remember, you are who you are today because of your past. Instead of getting down and longing for the old days, take pride in them and then focus on who you’ve become because of that journey. After that eye doctor reminded me of my past, I told him how well things are going now, despite being sick, and I said it with pride.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

Devin

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