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How To Be Yourself With MS

Often I have 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 five 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.

Hopes and dreams can change

Now, five 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! My biggest fears when I first heard the words ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ were that my life would lack to have 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. 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?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Sarah H.
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your positive words! I was diagnosed about 2 and a half years ago. I feel its an important reminder for me that I have ms; ms does not and will not HAVE me. That’s not to say there aren’t days when its in the forefront of my brain (no pun intended) but I just have to remind myself of all the positives in my life.

    I,too, am planning on starting a family soon. I will look forward to hearing how pregnancy and being a young mother goes for you. Again, thank you for your encouraging words. We are all in this together!

  • Nikki Kennedy author
    5 years ago

    Sarah, thanks for your response! Sorry it took me so long to respond. Take a look at one of my latest posts, it’s titled New Addition (or something like that – MS brain). I look forward to hearing about your life as you choose to start your own family. My husband and I are in the process of starting ours now, and it’s already been quite the road! I will write more posts and continue to keep everyone updated.

  • north-star
    6 years ago

    I’ve had MS for most of my adult life; having realistic plans-subject-to-change has made all the difference in terms of my quality of life. In particular, volunteering has kept me sane and outgoing at times when I wasn’t able to work for pay. Volunteering also led to deep friendships and replaced the camaraderie I missed when I wasn’t going to an office every day. I just counted and I’ve had seven different volunteer “careers” over the last ten years. Every one taught me something new.

    I loved your story, Nikki, your determination means you’ll adapt and thrive and will find friends through your kids, volunteering, work, whatever brings you happiness and creative joy. PS: I never felt better than I did when I was pregnant, and I met many interesting women when I was a young mother. Your adventure is just beginning!

  • Nikki Kennedy author
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words and for sharing a part of your story with me! Something I have grown to understand and love about the MS Community is how supportive everyone is of each other. It sounds like you have found many ways to deal with the trials and tribulations of living day-to-day with MS and come out on top. Volunteering has such amazing rewards, even more than a career in many situations. Thank you again for sharing!


  • KatrinaS
    6 years ago

    New to my MS diagnosis at age 43 and a happily married mom of four boys. My older sister died in 1999 at the age of 33 from MS after being diagnosed at 19. Never thought I’d be next. Ready to deal and thank you so much for this writing. Perfectly said. I am loving this website!

  • Nikki Kennedy author
    6 years ago

    Welcome to the site! Glad you found it and have some support in this daily battle with MS.


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