Staying Afloat in the Middle of the Storm

Staying Afloat in the Middle of the Storm

The storms keep coming. Whenever I think I will land ashore, a hurricane sends me back into the eye of the storm. I want to write; however, I fall short of time and, ultimately, the words to explicate all I am going through.

Most writers have interval writer’s block. Emotional exhaustion is a distinct setback, an onerous beast. There is so much to say, but the sentences refuse to form on the page. I cannot count the times I stared at my computer, drying the tears that were dripping from my eyes.

I have been in a depressed state, and it behooves me to acknowledge this truth. As an MS and heart health advocate, I would be remiss not to write about mental illness awareness.

Anxiety and depression are intruders that are familiar to many of us. They arrive when we are not expecting company, with baggage and an unknown departure date. They take a seat in our minds and usurp control. It is a known fact that multiple sclerosis often accompanies depression and anxiety. For me, pain worsens my mental state.

My family has been going through arduous times involving deaths, a life-changing injury, and my mother’s illness. The emotional toll these past months have taken is unimaginable. All the while, my pain worsened. I turn to and rely on my faith to get over the obstacles life presents me with. There were times when I earnestly questioned whether my faith is as strong as I profess. Anxiety will challenge your entire belief system. The trite and sometimes relevant rhetorical questions of “Why me?” and “How much more can I take?” overrule.

Long ago, I would not have had the courage to confess this verity; I felt guilt over having these emotions. That is no longer true. Old things have passed away. Sitting and allowing myself to absorb the time and space I am in is therapeutic and mandatory. It is heartening to know that it is OK to not be OK all the time. I recognize that my faith empowers me to fight. My weak spirit doesn’t nullify the core of my spiritual being. These feelings will pass, and I will move on.

Self-awareness is my superpower, and I value it wholeheartedly. I have become acquainted with the most intricate parts of my existence. I know when I am ill. I know when I am in trouble. I know when I am difficult and miserable. I know that I am human and that trials will come. Ultimately, I will withstand the storm and my ship will dock — worn, damaged, and beautifully decorated with the battle scars of its survival.

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You never know what is going on in the life of another person. A smile often hides great pain and struggle. Make effort to reach out to your loved one, friend, or neighbor. Make it a priority to pay attention, and please do not judge. Take the time to show you care. It may save a life.

Depression, anxiety, and any other mental health-related disorders are not choices. We cannot just “snap out of it” or “pray it away.” It is the reality of many. Do your due diligence. Learn. Live. Tell. Support. Repeat.

To my fellow MS warriors, please know that you are not alone in your struggle. We understand the fatigue, the pain, and the constant struggle between your body and mind. Remember that help is available. Acknowledging the need and summoning help is brave. Courage doesn’t always roar. It may be a silent whisper or a small step.

Important numbers to remember if you need immediate help and/or resources are the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society at 1-800-344-4867. Keep your head up. Thanks for giving me the courage to speak my truth and to retreat when necessary.

What can I do to quell this pain? It hurts. It aches. It gnaws.
Days go by and years come to pass, My flesh is open and raw.
I have to believe that one day soon, Victory will be mine to claim.
If I can just get through today, A crown will bear my name.
(“Just A Piece of Peace,” Teresa I. Wright-Johnson)

You are invited to follow my website at www.teresawrightjohnson.com

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.
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Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.
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12 comments

  1. Kathleen M Mather says:

    The story I just read totally hit the spot with how I felt & still feel every day. You want to blam someone or something in your life why “you have to go through all of this pain” both physically & mentally. I know everyone in my life “understands” what I’m going through & how I feel,but do they really. I know they want to make it better or easier for me but in reality they can’t only I can. I either got to stop blaming everything & everyone for how I’m feeling at that moment and try to make myself better. Easier said then done because it’s easier to pass the blame. I was diagnosed at 26, I am now 52 but I really didn’t get my life “taken away” from me until 42. That’s when I stopped working,walking & gave up. I know I allowed it to happen myself by not accepting the fact my body is tired of fighting and wanted to rest,but I felt like I just gave up and it just made me mad & more depressed then ever before. I have a 14yr old daughter who really don’t remember me without a wheelchair because she was 4 when I stopped walking.
    I do hope with all the new medication coming out will help the newly diagnosed patients. I hope for the best that’s the only thing I can really do at this point.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Kathleen,
      Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate you. Your story is one of pain and triumph, like most of us. Please know that I admire your courage because even though MS has taken so much from you, you choose to fight. Even when you don’t realize you are. Take the time you need and always have hope. Be encouraged.

  2. Trequila Johnson says:

    Amen for your couraged displayed in your journey Thank you.
    This story made me feel not all by myself with MS. Very encouraging
    God bless
    Trequila J.
    MS Warrior

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Trequila,
      Thanks for reading the column and for your heartfelt response. You are and will never be by yourself. There are many of us living and thriving with MS. Be encouraged and thank you for your encouragement.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi GBailey,
      Thanks for reading the column. I am glad the column resonated with you. I often cry and carry on. We are never alone. Be encouraged.

  3. Debbie says:

    Thank you for standing up and admitting that it is OK not to always be excepting of our challenges. I feel guilty when I don’t just face everything and keep the stiff upper lip. We feel guilty if we don’t say everything is okay. So thank you for allowing us to be human.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for reading the column and for your response. Please don’t feel guilty. You are entitled to feel whatever you feel and experience it in your way. There is no shame in honoring your space. I wish you strength to endure the difficult days and more sunshine than rain. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  4. Anita says:

    Teresa, my thoughts and prayers are with you. You are going through a rough patch. It’s tough. Take it one day at a time. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, I just try not to stress myself out but easier said than done. I know what it feels like to have MS and have the responsibility of caring for a loved one who is ill. While taking care of my Dad, I was always stressed. Angry. And the day came where he fell, was back and forth between hospitals and rehab and finally in hospice for 2 days and he passed. A week later I fell and broke my pelvic bone and I then was in the hospital and rehab. Once all that was done, my stress levels subsided. I now talk to my Dad almost everyday and tell him I’m sorry for being so cranky. I should have said that when he was alive. It was his illness and age (95) and my illness and inability to cope with it all. So, as I read your blog, it brought back memories. Hang in there. Take a deep breath. Rely on your loved ones and faith and better days will come.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Anita,
      Thank you for the prayers and words of encouragement. Your story touched the deepest part of me, I appreciate your courage and honesty. Life itself is stressful and we never know what’s ahead. Whenever I get overwhelmed with my own situation, I regroup and thank God that I still have my parents and good days to share with them. Occupying the position of caregiver is difficult and many are afraid to admit it. As for your dad, I’m sure he knew your heart and that he loved you on your worse day take comfort in that. I also believe that the spirit of our loved ones remain with us and I believe that your dad hears every word you speak to him. I appreciate you and your encouraging words. One day at a time, we will make it through.

  5. Dorothy says:

    Hi. I feel your pain. I was just diagnosed in March. And some days I don’t want to open my eyes. The pain that doesn’t stop, the weakness and the burden I’m putting on my family. I feel like I’m holding them back from life trying to help and worry about me and the new life with MS. We are learning together. My question was “WHY ME”?. But God had to have someone to tell the story. We are the story. Just a few words to someone else with this illness might help them through whatever they are going through that day to say “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”. MAY GOD BLESS US.
    Thank you for your post.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Dorothy,
      Thanks for your honesty and for reading the column. There are days when we feel discouraged. We are human. There is no shame in that. What makes us survivors are our desire and willingness to fight. I too believe that I 9am one of God’s chosen ones. We have been hand selected to live this life. I agree with your sentiment, God Bless us. We are made strong. Sending positive thoughts your way.

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