Choosing Calm Over Chaos: Quieting Myself While Living with SPMS

Choosing Calm Over Chaos: Quieting Myself While Living with SPMS

Living with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is a lesson in adaptation. The constant is change. This disease has given me sea legs. Nevertheless, some days have me fooled. When I think I finally have it in check, MS calls “checkmate!”

And I remember. Let go of the reins, Jenn. Let go.

I often talk myself off the proverbial ledge. That ledge represents expectations of myself and what I need to do on any given day. Stepping away from the ledge releases resentment toward me and this disease. It is difficult to thrive with such animosity. The bitterness is like a noose, and every time I try to move forward, the rope tightens.

Take off the rope. Let go of the reins.

I needed to loosen my grasp. My inability to meet expectations left me stressed. Stress is the kryptonite of multiple sclerosis. My stress manifested physically and emotionally. Self-care came a distant second to frenetic chaos.

I am still in the process of letting go — this will always be my Achilles’ heel. My desire for structure remains. But I am flexible. I work hard to maintain my adaptability. I struggle with internal dialogue. Random chatter about self-worth heightens on days when pain and fatigue are at their worst.

I have found meditation to be life-changing. I set aside 20 minutes every day to meditate. My practice is personal. It looks different for everyone. I began with a guided meditation, which helped me to acquire the tools to do it on my own.

My mantra changes every day. I chose each one according to what’s bothering me at that time. If feelings of worthlessness arise, my mantra might be, “I am enough.” I retreat to a quiet location, away from people and pets. I set my timer for 20 minutes, close my eyes, and empty my mind. If noises, thoughts, or pain disturb me, I center myself by repeating my mantra. I do this until my mind is calm.

In quieting my mind, I calm my soul. I feel a newfound serenity. The small, insignificant minutiae fall away, and I have room for me. I have space for wellness. I can accept the flux, both in life and with MS.

I bought 45s for the A-side. But inevitably, I fell in love with the B-side. Isn’t it funny how life imitates art?

***

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.

Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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5 comments

  1. Tonia says:

    Yes.I love the calm and silence.
    Wish everyone could understand that it’s not superiority nor speciality. It’s my need to calm myself and to go on…

  2. Nadine Sather says:

    I have to find that peace through my everyday chant just breathe. It is amazing what these two little words can bring me through. I have MS, my husband is a soldier and on deployment again. My mother-in-law does not understand anything. I put things in places that I can get to and remember where it is she puts things in places she thinks are correct and out of sight. So I just chant JUST BREATHE.

  3. Peace and calm have been my mantra for the past 25 years since I began yoga sessions in Wales amongst friends this experience has made the chaos of my progressive MS calm down over time and I have recenly discovered Thai Chi and Chi Gung also control calming through breathing and excersise fantastic as group therapy.
    I have had my MS for 50 years although I have embraced it I do not like it and struggle to control it daily due to pain that destroys my natural jouie de vivre (joy of living).
    Kathleen (retired diabetes nurse specialist age 68 now living in France)

  4. Carolyn Walsh, MSN, RN says:

    Reading through the first half of this column, I felt as if I could be the author.
    I’m type “A”, I need to be in control, and have everything organized.
    It’s a battle and I’m losing. Reading this helped me refocus into what’s important, taking care of me and my MS.
    Thank you for sharing.

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