Finding That Passion

The changes that come while living with Multiple Sclerosis can be fast and furious or they can prod along slowly over decades. No matter how long it takes, there are a large number of those diagnosed whose lives have been completely uprooted, completely altered from what they expected. For many, the changes we experience can dramatically affect our happiness and our ability to socialize. We often feel like we’ve lost control of our lives. Depression and feelings of isolation run rampant in the MS community. While I constantly battle these issues, I am often asked what helps me deal with the often sudden, unexpected, and constant upheaval that MS casts upon our lives. My number one advice, is to talk always to a professional, because proper mental health care is vital with this disease (you need more than a neurologist). The second thing I like to suggest is to find something to get into, something to be passionate about.

The need

As my body began to deteriorate more and more, I could no long engage in some of my favorite hobbies, namely playing hockey and running. When things got to the point that I ended up on disability, I also began to see my friends less and less; even now, I don’t get out as much as I should or would like. It’s incredibly rough to not be able to do any of the things you once did for fun. Having something that provides joy is essential in fighting this disease. Aside from fun, having an interest to escape to can be vital, particularly on the rough days. With our life circumstances changing so much, we need to be open to new interests. Finding a new, even unexpected interest, can be extremely helpful when trying to improve our lives. A hobby is one word for it, but I prefer the word passion. Finding the right passion can not only help you relieve the stress that can be deadly to us, but it can also help us get the social contact we require.

Toys!

I discovered the most unlikely of passions for a man that is now nearly in his 40s, toys. While I’ve discussed how important LEGOs are to my life, they are not the only toys that have helped me, nor were they the first. On one of my saddest and toughest days with the disease, I purchased a G.I. Joe action figure online. It was a remake of a favorite I had as a kid and I don’t even know how I came across it. For some reason, this brought me a ton of happiness. I discovered a hobby that I assumed had existed but that I had never given any thought to. Years later, I have a massive G.I. Joe and Star Wars action figure collection. At one point, my collection was even mentioned in a fan publication (Geez, at this point, it’s like I’m just revealing every part of me that could possibly prevent me from ever getting a date again!). I had some misconceptions about the people in this hobby, turns out a lot of people collect things like this, and they aren’t all like Steve Carrell’s character in The 40 Year Old Virgin (I mean, yea, there are a few folks like that, but not most).

Helping me socialize and exercising my brain

After doing this for some years now, one of the things I realize I enjoy the most about it, is not just my physical collection (that may actually be the least important part), but the discussions I have with people about the hobby, the reading up and researching that’s involved (that, like LEGOs, has been very beneficial for my cognitive issues). I started to realize that this hobby, which has very much become a passion, has helped me socialize, has exercised my brain, and maybe most importantly, has given me a distraction from the worst parts of my life. Collecting toys, as silly as it may sound to some, has been crucial to my survival with MS. If I didn’t have an interest like this, I’m not sure what would happen to me.

Find something

Obviously, I’m not saying that everyone should collect or get into toys, but I do think everyone needs to find something. Maybe it’s something you used to be interested in, maybe it’s something you’ve never delved into before. Even the exploratory process is beneficial. Maybe you try making some art, even though you were bad at it before. Maybe you try bird watching, or dressing up your dogs and photographing them, or coloring, or you get into the world of anime, or classic movies or whatever. There are so many things you can pour yourself into, regardless of your level of disability. Most interests have thriving online communities too, giving you a chance to talk about more than MS. When our disease makes us stop working or changes our life in other unexpected ways, that can be an amazing opportunity to begin exploring yourself, a chance to discover a passion that you never knew you had. A passion that will bring numerous benefits along with it.

Thanks for reading!

Devin

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Comments

View Comments (7)
  • Julie
    4 months ago

    While they aren’t a hobby, my grandkids are my passion. Several years ago my daughter and her husband and I put our heads together and decided to buy a large home together. We found one that suits both families, they live upstairs and I live downstairs. If I need assistance, they are a shout or a phone call away. I help them by being here for the kids. Sadly they will be 13 next month and don’t need me as much.

    Until they discovered I can be a taxi service! This summer I have hauled them back and forth to dance camp, conditioning classes, football camp, you get the picture. Plus I’m just downstairs if things turn to scream fights between them. I usually let them fight it out. No one wants grandma to have to haul her butt up the stairs and play referee.

    So like I said, it’s not a hobby but they keep me on my toes and make me get out of the house several times a day. Plus they love me. What could ever replace that? It’s not the life I thought I would end up with but it’s keeping me busy and not thinking about my health problems. Good health to all! Julie

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank sounds great Julie, thanks for sharing!

  • dhortho1
    4 months ago

    Devin,
    I’ve been reading you for some time, now. What type of MS do you have? Thanks.

    David

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thanks dhortho1 (David), I am still technically diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting. My neurologist believed that I was transitioning into Secondary-Progressive about 4 years ago. That’s when I started Tysabri. Progression has seemed to stop (for the moment) since I started Tysabri, so they haven’t changed the diagnosis.

  • collena
    4 months ago

    It’s been almost 9 months since I was officially diagnosed (time flies whether you’re having fun or not). I’d like to say I’ve ‘come to terms’ but every day seems to bring a new ‘can’t do that anymore’ realization. So slowly but surely I am coming to terms with technology atleast, figuring out how it can help me still write. Coherency is another issue, but I’m pretty sure that’s always been an issue for me…;)

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you collena! Good luck on your journey. There will be adjustments for sure. It’s hard to not think of things as being “can’t do”, I struggle with that as well. However, I do try to think of it in these terms: It’s not that I can’t do it, I have to find another way to do it, I have to adapt and learn to do things differently. It’s a challenge for sure, but it can be done!

  • Kym
    4 months ago

    For me it’s my part time job, swimming and yoga!

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