When Life Is Rough, I Remember What MS Has Taught Me
I’ve heard from a lot of people that my writing is often real and un-sugarcoated. That’s very true. I’m someone who can’t stand the nonstop, cliched, rah rah, overly positive, “You can do it!” pep talks that are so often shared like wildfire through a dry forest. I know that kind of thing helps a lot of folks, but it doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help my pain, it doesn’t stop my falling, it doesn’t make my MS or any of the bad things in my life go away. Not only does it not help, but it feels dismissive to me. So what do I rely on when I need a pick-me-up or a pep talk? (and believe me, I’m at a moment in life right now where I could sure use one). I try to rely on my experience with MS.
I’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since 2000, when I was just a freshman in college. To say my life hasn’t gone smoothly since then would be a understatement. As my disease progressed, it ended a successful career, it destroyed relationships, and it’s made nearly every day a challenge of some kind. Adding insult to injury is the invisibility of the disease. I have problems, but people look at me and wonder why I’m not working, why I’m on disability. They see only what is on the surface and not the pain and fatigue underneath and not the effort it takes for me to be out. And they certainly don’t see the aftermath of being out of the house for even a few hours.
We’re battling something every single day
Over the years though, all of that has made me tougher. It’s apparently left me more capable than I ever realized to be able to handle life’s problems. This applies not only to problems related to MS, but also challenges that everyone experiences throughout life. There really is a reason why the phrase “MS Warrior” is used so much in our community. It’s such a fitting description. We’re battling something every single day. Even on our good days, we often face an assortment of challenges we have to overcome just to stay alive. A long time of living like that builds our strength, it molds us. It makes warriors out of us even if we weren’t one to begin with. I think that’s something to be thankful for, I think that’s a positive.
Speaking of being thankful, yes, the disease has hardened me for when things don’t go as planned. However, it’s also made me appreciate the good things in life even more. So even when my life seems like it’s falling apart, I can still find the good in something, whether it be watching my dog play with a new toy, enjoying a good beer, or even just feeling really cold air conditioning during a hot summer day. I’m able to stop and get something out of those experiences in a way I couldn’t before I went through all of this. That helps me cope, that helps me persist and carry on with a life that can seem so unfair and so hard at times.
We can do it, because we’ve done it before
So that’s really it. While some people have so much success with quotes of the day and inspiring memes, I’m someone who simply stops and looks at my own life. I’ve been through a lot, as I’m sure many of you have. That experience reminds me that I’ll get through the situation at hand. That to me is one of the rare benefits of fighting a disease like MS. That we can go through this grinder of a disease and learn to still keep going. It may not always be pleasant, but we can do it, because we’ve done it before. That’s what I try to rely on, that’s what I think about when my times are tough. It doesn’t make every day easy, but it helps me through it. This disease has molded me into a strong survivor and a warrior. It’s taught me that no matter what life throws at me, I’ll get past it.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We want to check in. How are you feeling?