My MS Diagnosis Helped Me Realize I Was Whole
As a naïve 28-year-old I was understandably innocent about the world of MS. My diagnosis stunned me but I didn’t take any time to mourn. Instead I went into action, driving myself to our local library to find whatever I could get my hands on about this disease with a funny name.
I remember the first book I read was “Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for Patients and Their Families” by Dr. Labe Scheinberg, a well-known neurologist and author. The second was “The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book” by Roy Swank, who introduced a low saturated fat diet for the treatment of MS.
I found Dr. Scheinberg’s book to be educational and enlightening, providing me with my first step toward a better understanding of MS.
Dr. Swank’s book was interesting and I decided to try out his diet. I was on it for a week. I found it too difficult and thought to myself that there must be a better way to eat for better health to try and manage my MS.
Enter Dr. Andrew Weil, who I’ve written about before on MultipleSclerosis.net as being the first person to truly “speak” to me. Reading my first Andrew Weil book gave me what Oprah coined an “aha!" moment.
He opened my eyes to what it meant to be a whole person. It was the first time I remember reading and understanding that I was whole. Whole? Wasn’t I divvied up into one part physical, one part emotional and one part spiritual, with each part being separate but not equal?
And so my journey began in my firm belief that when the mind, body and spirit work in harmony, they can magically form a perfect whole.
You’re probably wondering what the heck I mean by that. Let me explain.
I used to compartmentalize who I was, thinking that my physical being was a separate part of me, and my emotions and spiritual parts were also separate.
I guess I never spent much time thinking about any of this because, honestly, up until my diagnosis I didn’t have any reason to ponder it further.
Enter MS and after reading Dr. Weil I thought a lot about the mind-body connection. He opened up a part of myself that I never knew existed, and it felt good.
I followed his advice, from diet and exercise to medication. I experimented with traditional Chinese medicine, and whenever possible I scheduled Swedish massages, and worked on removing as much stress as possible.
Along the road I worked on also gaining a Cezanne-like perspective to life, trying to step outside of myself if any pangs of anxiety, depression or guilt crossed my path. This stance provided a chance to look at my new situation head-on to stop those potentially harmful (and useless) emotions.
Does this always work for me? No. But I think that over the years it’s helped more times than not.
We are all works in progress, and no matter how MS manifests itself, we have some power left to think, feel and learn. It’s comforting to know that no matter what this disease may take away from us, we will always be whole beings.
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?