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MS: My Identity Thief

Got MS? What about your identity? What about my identity? It may be the simple things that we can no longer do that enables us to begin to understand that Multiple Sclerosis has changed who we are, our identity to ourselves and to others close to us.

You probably heard it before, or you’ve said it yourself. “Since Multiple Sclerosis has entered my life, I’m not the old me.” Duh, but of course I’m not. That does not mean that I’m any less because I do less than before, although honestly, I do find myself feeling that way at times. Too many times.

The challenges MS brings seems never-ending. The most recent obstacle I’m working through is strength and dexterity in my hands. I have been feeling for months that those abilities were circling down the drain. Kinda like a ring that dropped in the sink and couldn’t be snatched before it disappeared. It was this difficulty using my hands I hoped would not become an issue, but alas it is here. And it has affected a part of an activity, a “simple” one, directly tied to my identity and my level of feeling competent. It’s my signature.
I remember after being diagnosed with MS (22 years ago), the first time when I could not sign my name. I was at the grocery store and struggling to write a check and there I was suddenly unable to write my name legibly. I had no warning and it was quite unexpected. There I stood looking at my hand holding a pen as the cashier waited. Talk about performance anxiety! I paused and attempted to write my name again…my name in cursive. How could the inability to do such a seemingly small thing suddenly feel like a mountain of a challenge? Well, I did write it and it wasn’t pretty but it was on the line. I was shaken up honestly. Fortunately, that particular symptom dissipated in short order, but I’m back there again and now paired up with relearning how to walk after suffering an exacerbation.

Sometimes the symptoms and ill effects of MS makes it much more difficult to do things that we have been doing for years. For some it might be athletics or dancing, or the ability to walk up and down the stairs. Perhaps even just walking unassisted itself. For many of us, it may very well be hoping for and trying to enjoy a pain-free day.

Sometimes I find myself wondering just who I am. It truly is a mind blower and heartbreaker when those capabilities leave you, and you’re left with rebuilding another identity after Multiple Sclerosis steals the one you’ve been for many years. Sometimes the loss is ever so gradual. Other times it feels like a brash home invasion of your body movements and mind clarity.

Yes the identity thief that is MS has amassed a fortune of peoples abilities that cannot be replaced by money or disability insurance. The circumstance demands of us that we MSers know our worth and that it exists beyond the physical.

After all, we’ve already learned the most important things. Like how to smile and how to love and how to show care for others. And for all of those how to lessons I am truly grateful. For that is who I am. That is my identity. One that I’m determined that the identity thief will never steal.

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.


  • rolly
    1 year ago

    Thank you, Lexine, for sharing your thoughts, which speak volumes. I often feel that the MS has stolen my identity. I sometimes wonder what happened to my former self of 23 years ago, before MS entered my life and began to alter it, bit by bit, ruthlessly, without mercy.

    I feel that i’ve had to reinvent myself too many times. Every time the MS had stolen a particular ability from me, I needed to compensate for that somehow, and I felt that it changed a part of me, altering my identity along with it.

    The “me” in a wheelchair is not the “me” I was before. People perceive me differently, and that reflects on how I identify with myself.

    When I struggle for words because I simply draw a blank, or my speech is slurred to the point that people find it difficult to understand what i’m trying to say, I miss my old me, who was always good with words and spontaneous with a comment or answer.

    You said that we MSers need to “know our worth that that it exists beyond the physical”. And that we are still able to do the “most important things, which make our identity”.

    I thank you for those words, as they have have taught me that there are more basic things that form our identity, and which the MS cannot steal from us!


  • Lexine Darden author
    1 year ago

    Thank you so much for sharing Polly. Your story and experience touch me very deeply. I like you have reinvented myself and still will continue to but that basic me inside has been there and I’m proud of that as you should be too. Those qualities are truly the most important things. With fondness,Lexine

  • Lexine Darden author
    1 year ago sorry my vision sucks!

  • LJPcl
    1 year ago

    I’ve been dealing with this particular symtom from day 1. I was right handed. My whole life, right handed. I had just graduated from college, graphic design. Ya know, drawing, computer mouse, and that damn keyboard. I was screwed. It took me a few months but I realized I did have another whole arm to use. 11 years later I’m a proud left. My signature will never be the same and I’m proud of my new, better, more improved signature.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Lexine Darden author
    1 year ago

    LJ thank you for sharing your story I am so happy for you that your graphic arts career remains a part of your life that you did not give up. That is very inspiring to me. I wish you continued success. Truly, Lexine

  • Lexine Darden author
    1 year ago sorry my vision sucks!

  • Erin Rush moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Lexine Darden! I wanted to stand up and applaud your story, especially after reading this snippet, “Yes the identity thief that is MS has amassed a fortune of peoples abilities that cannot be replaced by money or disability insurance. The circumstance demands of us that we MSers know our worth and that it exists beyond the physical.” What a fabulous, and painfully accurate, description of MS! I think you really sum up what so many of our members feel and face each day; both the sudden inexplicable losses and the gradual ones, too.

    It’s never easy to lose your identity, but just like an identity thief in the world, they are just a shallow copy of the original and will NEVER truly possess the identity they sought to steal.

    May you always know your identity; on the good days and the not-so-good days! And, coincidentally, if you didn’t already know this, “talented writer” should definitely be a part of your identity!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Best, Erin, Team Member.

  • Lexine Darden author
    1 year ago

    Erin thank you so much for your kind response along with the opportunity to be published by your site..

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