31 Days of MS: Living With MS Has Launched My Radical Self-discovery
Day 3 of 31
I laughed a lot when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 2019. My diagnosis was a tangled string of trial, error, and realism. I was lucky to work primarily with health providers who held my hand by offering reassurance based on truth. With their unvexed reactions to my limp hand, my doctors soothed any anxiety I had about my failing dexterity. I was more concerned by the impending needles and MRI machines that would later rule out anything other than the neurodegenerative disease.
While there were pockets of sadness and distress, acceptance blanketed every piece of news I received in the process. It wasn’t until acceptance turned to anger that I realized I was on the nonlinear path of grief that entire time.
I was angry that I couldn’t go for a long drive on a sunny July afternoon because the heat would turn my hands to mush. I was angry that I physically couldn’t stay awake past 9:00 due to fatigue. I was saddened when a treatment trial failed, or when the MRIs yielded new lesions. I didn’t know how to introduce new friends or dates to my illness. In the two years following my diagnosis, after my doctors let go of my hand, I would learn that chronic illness comes with symptoms other than the physical.
The severity of multiple sclerosis varies from person to person, but I think there is a universal symptom most patients experience: mental health struggle. I laugh to power through, but I’m still grieving as I grow. The optimism is not disingenuous, but it does not tell the whole story.
My disability is invisible yet has an impact on every decision I make. It’s easy to feel isolated, and it’s a feeling I fight against every day, no matter what invitation I may need to decline next. Living with MS, while challenging and debilitating, has catapulted me into radical self-discovery. I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t kept my chin up then, but I’m happy to be in a place where I can simultaneously be real about the downsides while seeing the light that exists.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.