In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love analogies. I’ve just found there are so many things you can compare and relate to MS. And, it helps bring MS into perspective for me when I can compare it to daily life. Sometimes the analogies I find are more pessimistic, but what I love most about them is they can also help me shed a positive light on this disease. Why I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and daily life with MS doesn’t always make sense to me, but when I can relate it to other things, things everyone else goes through too, it helps.
Overcoming writer's block feels like freedom
I, like many other writers, get writer’s block all too often. It’s my obnoxious little pal that likes to sneak in and make me feel like my brain is made of mush, and my creative abilities are nowhere to be found. It makes my mind feel completely blank, and lacking anything of importance to share. Writer’s block makes it difficult to come up with new ideas either because I’ve run out of inspiration or become distracted by everything going on in my life. It prohibits me from moving forward in my writing, leaving me frustrated.
Why I write
I write because it helps me feel free; free of all of the many thoughts swirling around in my head. It takes the everyday issues that rest on my shoulders and helps relieve some of that extra weight from my life. Without being able to write, I would have everything jumbled on top of each other. Like I said, writing helps me make some sense of everything that occurs in my life, good and bad. Writer’s block is such a nuisance, but once you’ve experienced writer’s block, and then experienced the satisfaction of those words flowing again, it feels like freedom! Having previously struggled with writer’s block these past few months, I got to thinking (yes, another analogy is coming!) my life with MS has a lot of moments that feel oddly similar to how I feel when I have writer’s block.
MS brain fog
We all go through “writer’s block” even if we aren’t necessarily writing. It’s especially true with MS. One literal version of writer’s block with MS is brain fog. This disease has a reputation when it comes to clouding our thinking. For me, my brain fog is subtle most days. For instance; I’ll struggle to find the right words, I’ll forget what I’m doing in the midst of doing it, or I’ll have trouble concentrating (especially while trying to multitask). The pressure to have something done at a certain time, just makes my lack of concentration worse. For the most part, I feel like I work well under pressure, but that doesn’t mean my brain always follows suit. It tends to do its own thing 99% of the time. Writer’s block doesn’t always come with a lack of motivation, but sometimes that is the case. I lack motivation, because I’m fatigued and energy deprived, and with the fatigue and absence of energy comes brain fog, which in turn further motivates the writer’s block to come at me full force. Whew! It’s a vicious circle.
A more figurative form of writer’s block with MS is just life with MS in general. Many days with MS, I feel completely stumped. I’m tired, frustrated, overwhelmed and lacking all creative juices. I will feel like I’ve hit a roadblock and no matter how hard I try, I can’t move past it. I can go around it and try to find my way through the day, but when all is said and done that roadblock is still there. MS is a roadblock for me, it’s like my writer’s block. Some days, some months, and even some years have been full of feeling stuck. No matter how hard I try to get things flowing in the right direction, it is right there clouding my vision. MS changed me. It broke me. For so long I felt like I couldn’t move forward knowing MS was my life and my future. Would I ever be able to feel normal again? Would life ever be the same?
Accepting the new normal
Those have both become yes and no answers for me personally. Yes, I’ve been able to feel normal again, but its not the same normal as it was before. It took me 12 years of trial and error to find my new normal. But that new normal is what I know now, and I’ve accepted it. It’s a different kind of normal. A normal where I focus a lot more on my health and well-being than before. A normal where I take the time to rest when I need it, and to choose to stay in instead of go out. It’s a normal where I faithfully take medication and go to doctor’s appointments. But, it’s my normal, and after years of feeling like I would never find normalcy again, I’ll gladly take it.
Would life ever be the same?
For the question, would life ever be the same? No, life has never quite been the same. It’s different and more days than I would like to count it’s difficult. But, again, all it took was a little bit of time for me to grasp all that this life could be despite MS. My life isn’t like I once imagined before I was diagnosed at 14. That 14-year-old girl had huge life-sized dreams, and no fear of the future. She didn’t worry about her health or think she would have to compromise in some ways so that she wouldn’t overdo it. My 27-year-old self still has life sized dreams, but these dreams are different. These dreams are filled with attaining my goals, even when they may seem impossible at the moment. They’re dreams of furthering my writing career, of staying healthy and well for my family, of living each day to the fullest.
It’s taking each day as it comes, and making the best of it. I think it’s so true when people say, “You never know your limits unless you push yourself past them.” My life before MS I didn’t fully understand limits, because as far as I could see, I would never have any. Now, I do have limits, but it’s been a fun challenge for me to continue to push myself. I don’t push myself to overdo it, but I do push myself to continue to achieve my goals. I push myself because I’m the only one who can choose whether to let those limits set me back or let them push me to do more, to live more. Once I found my new normal, and found the joy in it, I found freedom. Just like with writer’s block, once you hit that point where you feel there’s no return, you can’t just quit. You take a break, take a breath, and keep pushing. The rest will come to you when the time is right. Patience is key.
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?