During MS Awareness Month in March, MultipleSclerosis.net asked the community several questions. One of those questions was if you could go back and tell your newly diagnosed self anything, what would it be? Well, it got me to thinking. I would tell myself so many things.
I know you’re only 14, and you’re terrified, but know first thing that this is not a death sentence. Your life is going to change drastically; I won’t sugarcoat it, but this is not the end of the road for you. This new life is going to be hard and scary in the beginning, but you’re going to learn how to navigate it with ease, even if right now that seems impossible.
Your doctors will help you
These symptoms that you’re feeling right now — the fatigue, pain, tremors, and mood-swings — your doctors are going to help you with those. You may never feel completely “normal” and like your peers, but your doctors are determined to help you live a normal teenage life. In fact, you are going to live a wonderful life and have more than you could have ever hoped for. All those things you dream about: graduating from college, the husband, the kids, and a beautiful home to grow as a family - one day, you’re going to have the future you’ve hoped for, despite this disease.
You will feel so proud of your accomplishments
You will graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree while working a full-time job. The days will be long and leave you weary, but you’re going to look back and feel so proud of what you’ve accomplished. You will go through some really tough seasons, some really low seasons. The depression and anxiety will feel like they’re swallowing you whole, but you’ll keep fighting. You will go through dark periods where you feel worthless, and you’re mad that life threw you this wrench, but you’ll get past it.
You will be loved
I know right now you feel unloveable and like no one will ever want someone with an incurable disease, but girl, you have no idea what’s in store for you. You will meet many toads along the way, but you will still be loved, even with MS. In fact, you’re going to meet a man that will love you despite every piece of baggage and flaw. He will love you without judgment of your past. He will show you what unconditional love really is. He will help you, fight for you, and be your shoulder to lean on when you can’t do it all on your own. You’ll wonder one day how you lived so long without him.
You will have a son who will change your life
And remember how you were the little girl with the baby dolls? The one who dreamed of being a mom since the time you could walk? I know one of your first worries after being diagnosed was that you would never be able to have babies or you would be too sick to care for them. Well, you have a son, and he’s the best gift life could have given you. He is as strong-willed and active as they come, but he loves his momma more than life. He will change your life and show you where your priorities truly lie. He will help you find that your overall health is important and that it’s worth putting time and effort into. The days will be long, and you will have days where you don’t possibly think that you can keep going. Parenting is going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, and MS makes it that much harder, but my goodness, it's so worth it.
You will find your rhythm
You’ll even love motherhood so much, you’ll go on to decide you want more babies. Because even though the days are so long, and often feel like too much, those little ones keep you going. MS will still leave you with horrible days, but you will make it. You will find your rhythm and you will learn to slow down before you overdo it. And, you will still overdo it, many times, but you’ll learn. That’s the thing about this life; even though it wasn’t the one you pictured, it still turns out to be beautiful and wonderful. It’s full of ups and downs, highs and lows. It’s the greatest ride you’ll ever ride.
The best is yet to come
But I just want you to know, this disease that you’re so terrified of right now — it turns out to be a blessing in its own weird way. You will learn to help others through your struggles and you will meet a community of people just like you. You’ll realize you’re not alone. This disease is full of teachable moments, and you will learn more than you can imagine. It will teach you some of life’s most valuable lessons. It will remind you to be compassionate and have empathy because you never know what someone is facing that day. You will stumble and you will fall along the way (literally), but you will persevere. You are stronger than you could ever imagine, and you will keep fighting even when you don’t think you can any longer. This disease won’t stop you. Keep living, the best is yet to come!
How well do people around you understand MS?