How to Be Yourself with MS
I have often thought of myself as different than other people in their teens and twenties, as if having MS means I can no longer be “young”. When I was first diagnosed at the age of 19, I basically thought my old life was over, and now I would somehow become this whole new person. I had a hard time coming to grips with telling people, family and friends alike. How would they react? Would they still accept me? And most of all, would they still want to have a relationship with me? I was afraid I would never find companionship or have a family, let alone a career if that was even what I really wanted anymore. It was, to say the least, overwhelming!
MS doesn't define me
What I came to learn with a little time and encouragement from my multiple support networks was that MS doesn’t DEFINE me. MS is just a part of me, something that will rear its head up once in a while (or more when it feels like it) and shake things up. With 5-plus years under my MS belt now, I have learned that while some things in my life were forced to adapt, I still get to be in charge, and shape my path in life to be where I want. I am now with my truly spectacular guy who, get this, knew about my diagnosis since the day we met and didn’t even blink an eye. Turns out, you can have a family, a career, anything you put your mind to; you may just have to get a little more creative about it.
Leading a full life 5 years after diagnosis
Now, 5 and a half years after my diagnosis, I am married, living with my husband and our animals in a lovely home. We are planning to start a family at some point and become entrepreneurs. We have family, many friends, and very full lives!
Our hopes and dreams can change
My biggest fears when I first heard the words ‘multiple sclerosis’ were that my life would lack meaning and I wouldn’t be able to achieve my hopes and dreams. What I have come to realize is that A) Our hopes and dreams change, sometimes even frequently, and B) Roll with the punches! So what, life gave me lemons? I have made some pretty rocking lemonade, so how lucky was I that lemons showed up in the first place?! In fact, I have met some of my very best friends through my volunteer work in the MS community. Without them, my life would be significantly less fulfilling and certainly not as interesting.
Adapting and becoming stronger
Thinking of my life and all of the wonderful components, past, present, and future, I would say that MS isn’t even that important. Sure, it impacts me on a daily basis, but it hasn’t changed who I am at my core, or what I want out of my life. I still strive to be the best person that I can be, honest, hard-working, and loving. My dreams haven’t changed, at least not at the hands of some disease.
I am stronger now
Obviously, some things have had to change, and I have had to learn to adapt, but none of that has made me any worse for the wear. In fact, I think I am significantly stronger now, and absolutely more determined to get where I want to go in life. MS makes us warriors who fight all day every day. But it doesn’t take away who we are, and we will never let it. You are the only one who can determine who you want to be, where you want to go, and how you want to get there. Tell me, what positive change have you made to your life since your diagnosis?
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?