Two legs walking on a green path with arrows pointing in a go manner.

The Importance of Moving Forward

“One step and then the next gets you where you’re going” is an often-repeated quote from the character Sister in one of my favorite books (Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon). The quote is something that she constantly repeats to herself whenever she is struggling. Sister is a character with a traumatic past, and this mantra is a pep talk of sorts, reminding her to not focus on the past or present (which is also fairly traumatic for her), but to keep moving forward. It also highlights that even the smallest of steps in the right direction can make a difference. Moving forward, and not focusing on the past, or even present, is something that’s become very important to me throughout my life with MS.

Longing for our past lives

I find it’s easy to think about my past a lot. A time when my disease didn’t have the impact on me that it does now. A time when I wasn’t disabled, when I still worked, and when everything seemed as it should be. I have a lot of moments when I wish I could hit rewind and get back to those times. I think reminiscing about our past lives when we were healthier is extra tempting for those with a chronic illness.

We are remembering a whole lot more than good times, we’re remembering feeling good again and a more promising future. This “rosy retrospection”, when we remember the past as being better than it actually was, is common for me but something I do my best to avoid. Getting our thoughts stuck on what once was is a good way to sidetrack us from what could be. It’s a recipe for depression, at least in my case. I get very down when I think about the past. No matter how much we long for the past, it isn’t coming back.

Being upset with the present

Getting mired in the past is one problem, but being down about the present can also be problematic. Things may seem especially bad for you at the moment. They may even seem downright unbearable. That’s when it’s time to take a step and do something that will get you out of it. “One step” may seem small, but it’s the beginning of what gets you where you are going. Is your house a mess and overwhelming you? Well, put one thing away. Are you feeling bad physically and feel like you’re stuck? Get online and look into a new doctor.

One small step may not alleviate whatever your current problems are, but one step is a crucial part of getting you there, getting you where you’re going. You don’t have to fix your current situation all at once; most of the time, that’s impossible anyway. You can, however, do something small and feel good about that. Small progress is still progress, don’t let anyone (especially you) take that from you.

Moving forward with MS

Thinking about what’s next can be a scary proposition for someone like me. I’m in a good spot in that my current medication has slowed and halted my progression. There was still a lot of damage done before that though. (Why couldn’t they start me on Tysabri sooner? My life would be so incredibly different. Ugh, see, there I go thinking about the past again). Realistically, my health isn’t going to improve. Even if they could get rid of MS from me completely, unless they can regrow myelin, I’d still be disabled.

So I get that thinking about the future can be downright frightening. I like to think, however, that there is always hope for the future. Even if my health gets worse, other parts of my life can still get better. I do my best to keep thoughts about my future health out of my mind. I also try to remember that I never expected to have the health problems that I already have, and you know what, I’ve gotten through those. Just like I’ll get through whatever comes next. And I’ll do that, by taking one step towards the future.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

Devin

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