My MS Mantras
For those of you who haven’t already figured it out, I have a very type A personality. I like order, rules, data, lists, and taking action. Being handed a diagnosis of MS really threw me out of my comfort zone, as it does to everyone. I had to get comfortable with the idea that multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease, and I knew I would have to find a way to learn how to go with the flow.
I had to accept the fact that MS may or may not slowly take away my ability to walk straight or think straight, and that there was no way to predict how the disease will ultimately affect me. Of course life never was certain, but it was easier to feel in control of my destiny before MS. All these thoughts can drive you crazy if you let them, and part of coping with a diagnosis of any chronic illness is to find a way to let go of the fear and take back control. One night, about a month after starting treatment, I was unable to sleep because my mind was running in a thousand different directions. While I was laying there I decided to set some ground rules for myself. I wrote them down and read them back to myself over and over throughout that first year. I never showed them to anyone, they were just my private little mantras. On my one year “MS anniversary” I decided to share them on Facebook and on JustKeepSmyelin.com. Now, if you are interested, I’d like to share them with all of you:
#1. Be Kind. Be kind to others whether it’s a stranger, patient, coworker, friend, or family member. If you treat people right and surround yourself with good people you will create a support system for yourself that will carry you through good times and bad. The truth is friends and family are your rock, and you need them more then they need you sometimes. Never miss an opportunity to show them how much you love and appreciate them. They deserve it. Above all be kind to yourself and allow the bad days to come and go. Forgive yourself, and never apologize for something you can’t control.
#2. Be Patient. Be patient with yourself and with your body. The brain takes time to heal, drugs take time to work, relapses take time to recover from. You may not be able to do something today that you could do yesterday, but there is a good chance that in time you will be able to do it again.
#3. Be Your Own Advocate. Be able to say no. Know that you can do anything that you want to, but also realize that you can’t do everything all at once. Learn the difference, and learn how to speak up for yourself.
#4. Be Happy. Stubbornly and steadfastly choose happiness. Be happy because you now hold more love and appreciation in your heart for your friends and family then you ever thought was possible. Be happy because now you have a reason to live in the moment instead of scheduling each day until the calendar is full. Be happy when you have a good day, but also find at least one thing to be happy about on the bad days.
#5. Be Stubborn. Don’t stop. Recover. Do whatever you need to do and show this disease that you will get more out of life then it could ever take from you. Never quit a battle that you should rightfully win, whether it’s a fitness goal or a battle with your insurance company. You’ve earned the right to be stubborn and to fight.
#6. Be Grateful. Be grateful for the people in your life, your medicine, your education, and the unique opportunity you have been given to make a positive impact on yourself and others. All of these things are a privilege, not a right, and should be treated as such.
So that’s it, those are the six rules I try to follow. I often fail to follow all of them all of the time, but that’s part of the journey. Throughout the years as I grow and change as a person I’m sure I will add a few things to the list. What are your MS mantras?