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When Life Is Rough, I Remember What MS Has Taught Me

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.

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.


  • potter
    3 years ago

    I enjoyed reading some of your revelations especially the ones about enjoying the simple things in life like your dog playing with a toy. I don’t mind the Rah Rah MS warriors if the can raise money and awareness I am all for it. I don’t like doctors or the press saying you don’t die from MS, I had one aunt who did. This was back when there was no treatment, she was diagnosed at 28 went into assisted living at 32 and died at 50. She had so many lesions and brain shrinkage her system just shut down. Who ever wrote an article about soaking in a tub to relieve stress has no idea what they are talking about and didn’t do their research. It is one of the worse things you could do for MS, it increases the temperature of blood going to your brain. I haven’t had a good soak in ten years, even a real hot shower can bother me. Potter

  • MarcieKim
    3 years ago

    Devin, this is great. I appreciate your candor so much in every post you write. My husband has had MS for a long time, so it’s not me fighting this battle – but nothing frustrates me more than the “rah rah” at MS events and the pollyanna crap I sometimes read as I search for answers, e.g. soak in the tub to reduce your stress, and better, MS is not a fatal disease. (I can’t believe they’re allowed to say that.) I wish everyone could just be real, but as you say, some people really need the inspirational quotes/memes. So thank you for being a voice for everyone else.

  • Dimitri
    3 years ago

    Yeah, I like to be left alone when I’m not going well. I personally use game theory to help me thru the bad times. Whenever an obsticle pops up in life I just have to stop and look around for my next path like I’m in a real virtual reality video game.

  • jennyb
    3 years ago

    Thanks, Devin. I feel the same way. They can keep the memes, I just end up comparing myself to those people and always come up short. I am now 62 years old and have been through cancer treatment twice, have Menier’s Disease, have psoriatic arthritis, have broken my ankle in three places which required surgery and a long recovery, have MS, and blood clots and on Warfarin and everything that goes along with that, and deal with osteoporosis. So I just deal with it. I am not a hero running MS races and stuff like that. Just staying on top of it all, taking my meds, trying to exercise, and have a little joy in my life is enough for me. My husband is a marathon runner and I can barely cross the street without my 4 wheel walker. Oh well! Shit happens even to people who don’t deserve it.

  • tfstf
    3 years ago

    To Devin: I agree that MS teaches us. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of rah-rah crap either, although I do appreciate those moments you spoke of (including the taste of that ice cold beer.) Our daughter gave me a lapel pin for Christmas that says “Cheer the Fuck Up”. She was very leary of what my reaction might be, but it still makes me laugh or at least smirk. Quite the slogan.
    Keep writing: you are gifted and I know many others agree with me.
    Love from north of the border, T

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much tfs! I always appreciate hearing from you in the comments!!!

  • kristensimas
    3 years ago


    As always I enjoy your writing but this article could not have been any more perfect. Preach it my friend!!!!!! Don’t give me the rah-rah crap. I know it works for some but not me. Just let me work through it and I will meet you on the other side when I am better. Sadly enough, that doesn’t always work out. But that’s okay. I have a few close friends who will be there.

    So Devin keep preaching it!!!!!!
    Love from Maine,

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much Kristen!

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