Can your mind control your illness? You might think, “No, of course not, the illness will do what it’ll do. I have no control over that.”
What if I told you that you might have more control over it than you think?
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago, I went into total panic mode. For the first time, I felt that my body was out of my control.
The left side of my body had stopped working. It was like someone had pressed an off switch that I didn’t know I had — and that was it. A few days later, my right hand became weak. The three years I’d taken to study illustration were suddenly pointless. I didn’t know who I was anymore. My life was always about drawing, and I didn’t know how to do anything else.
I was in a super-stressed state all the time when I was newly diagnosed. I panicked about every tingle, every stab of pain, every flailing weak moment. Was this feeling a relapse? I didn’t know. I didn’t understand MS then.
I realize now that this was probably all in my head. It felt worse because I was experiencing a heightened emotional response to what I was going through.
Here’s the thing: I learned about something called psychosomatic pain, which stems from an emotional rather than a physical pain response. I was experiencing the emotional trauma of a new diagnosis that manifested in my body as physical pain, making everything seem much worse. That made sense. The stress that I felt was bringing on these symptoms; my learning about MS symptoms at the time further complicated the situation.
So, how did I get out of this state?
I realized that my response was part of the process of accepting my diagnosis and that it takes time to work through emotional trauma.
Then I found that the key to managing my emotional stress was in my actions. I wasn’t in control of what the illness could do to my body, but I was in command of my mindset toward the illness.
I realized that the way I was living was unhelpful. I was constantly telling myself and others, “Ah, I can’t do that, I have MS now.” My attitude was not benefiting me; instead, it was giving the disease power over me.
After reading “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, I realized that I needed to change my narrative. I began to practice daily meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and gratitude, and over time, this helped to change my outlook on life. I have been relapse-free for five years and have minimal daily symptoms.
Following my success with this method, I tweaked what I’d learned to suit people with chronic illness and put together a free 5-day challenge to help others to manage their stress and, therefore, their illness. Take the challenge by visiting this link to Enabled Warriors on Facebook Messenger and click “Get Started.”
Describe your diagnosis. Have you accepted it? Let me know in the comments below.
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.