How Social Media Has Always Helped Me Overcome MS
I am young. I was born in 1990, but that means I am just “old enough” to remember when this “internet thing” started to really take off. Nothing like the sound of a 56k, dial-up modem trying to connect you to some random chatroom that was brought to you by a free-trial disk of AOL, right? This internet contraption provided me with MINUTES of fun on our family’s Windows 95 computer until someone in the house picked up the phone and kicked you offline. “No! Who knows how long I will have to wait to reload that little flash game which is now the center of my entire life! ARG! Forget it, I will just go up into “the hills” with my friends to do some paintball gun target practice with our collection of used AOL and MSN free trial CDs (a cheap alternative to clay pigeons). Yeah, that was pretty much the extent of my relationship with the world wide web.
The Internet has become an essential tool
The internet was a new piece of technology that no one really seemed to know how to properly use in the everyday life of society. At that time, it was like having a nice and shiny Lamborghini parked in your driveway; sure, it was fun to sit in and play with all the bells & whistles, but honestly? You had no idea how to even drive… so it just sat there fulfilling no real purpose in your daily life. I was thinking about all of this, and I realized that nowadays? The internet is vastly taken for granted because it has become so deeply intertwined in everything that we do in our lives! The internet, like any other tool, can be used constructively for good or destructively for bad, but way more often than not, it is a positive force in our lives, an essential tool, especially when living with a chronic disease like Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Finding a whole new world of information
Fun fact; I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have access to the internet when I was diagnosed with MS. Simple. I am particularly referring to my mental and physical health. A lot of the time, when people are diagnosed with a chronic disease like MS, they feel scared and alone. “Multi-what? I don’t even know what MS is! I have never even heard of it! All I know is my body is shutting down on me out of nowhere, and since this doesn’t seem to be happening to anyone else around me… I must be the only one. Am I going to die?” Cue broadband internet; Google and Facebook to the rescue! The absolute first thing I did when I got home from my neurology appointment (where I was told that I had MS) was hop on the Google machine and type in “what is Multiple Sclerosis,” which was an incredibly simple search that brought to my attention a whole new world of information, as well as the fact that there was an active community of many other people who also had MS, who were going through a lot of the same stuff as me, who let me know that I was not alone!
Access to real people with MS
All the stuff that my doctor should have told me about regarding the nature of this disease, how to treat it, and how to maintain an active life full of good health, was right there! The more I was able to learn about MS, the more questions I had, and my greatest “asset” was now having people to ask questions about the things I did not know, as well as being able to talk to them about their personal experiences dealing with the things that I was. Since I immediately started blogging about my experience with MS, I quickly found myself in the middle of an extremely supportive community.
An accepting community
So I realized that though MS sucks in all sorts of ways, it would be so much worse had that 56k, dial-up internet not evolved into what it is today. The internet allows all sorts of people from all around the world to connect with each other, share their stories, advice, knowledge, and friendship, and when used properly the internet is also an amazing educational tool allowing people to advocate for themselves rather than blindly doing whatever their doctor tells them to do. But without a doubt, the best part of the internet when it comes to living with a chronic disease like MS is the community. No matter what stage of life you are in or what the status of your MS/health is, you never have to go through it completely alone because there is always a group of people who also have MS that will accept you into their community and do whatever they can to help you with whatever you are struggling with, no matter what the time. 20-30 years ago this was not such an easy possibility especially if you were unable to leave the house to participate in that local MS support group.
The Internet provides practical help
The internet can help people with a chronic disease such as Multiple Sclerosis in many other ways than just providing educational information, personal stories/advice, and a community of other people dealing with the same things that you are. In 2018, if I need to pick up groceries despite the fact that I can’t drive and no one is home to take me to the store I can simply order what I need online even if I just want a single apple!
So how has the internet helped you in life with Multiple Sclerosis? In what other ways do you feel it can help improve the lives of people with a chronic illness and what are some of the things that you think it can offer people but are not yet available? Share your thoughts and ideas below!