Butterflies and Bridges: The Importance of Perspective and Perseverance With MS

Beth Ullah avatar

by Beth Ullah |

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The butterfly effect is an idea coined by mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz that is based on chaos theory. Lorenz pondered whether the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world could cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.

I believe this is a poetic metaphor for my MS journey.

After someone’s been diagnosed with a lifelong condition for which there is no cure, the winds of change sweep into their life. I’ve found that these winds tend to set in motion a butterfly effect, which prompts them to truly learn the meaning of the word perspective.

While those winds of change may have been a precursor to the hurricane that my relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) evolved into, the rainbow left in its wake is something entirely different.

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How my perspective changed

“On this day 5 years ago” popped up on my Facebook feed the other day. Five years ago, I had written a post about perspective. I mused about what would’ve happened if a certain incident with my phone had occurred a year earlier, instead of at that moment. The phone had fallen out of my pocket and cartwheeled down the stairs, smashing the screen. If this had happened a year earlier, it would’ve ruined my day, and possibly even my week. But not anymore.

That’s because my RRMS diagnosis brought an entirely new perspective to the little things in life. This new perspective is dazzling. Of course, it might be because I’m older and wiser. But small, mundane things, such as breaking my phone, cease to be as significant as they once were. What previously might have caused a black cloud to form and follow me around for a day or two is now just a mild inconvenience.

Perspective, change, adaptation, and perseverance — these four concepts represent the lessons that have changed my life. As I’ve learned, the hardest lessons also tend to be the most rewarding.

Part of me

Pre-MS Beth was a planner and an organizer. Somewhere along the way, this fell away. Whether it was a consequence of my cognitive fatigue or the intrinsic knowledge that I must now persevere and adapt to a new way of living every day, I can’t say.

I can say, however, that it has led to a whole new outlook on life. Adaptation and perseverance are now my sixth and seventh senses. Like tendrils of ivy wrapping around a weathered country cottage, they’re part of me, growing into every nook and cranny.

Today, I might walk around the autumn gardens, with their crisp, golden leaves underfoot, and appreciate the beauty of this glowing season. Yet, tomorrow? Aware that the blessings and the gratitude that come with such an excursion today may mean I’ll struggle tomorrow to simply walk to the toilet from my bedroom, I’m still grateful for today and its memories, which are now locked away in the vault of my mind.

I’ve had to adapt to the knowledge that my physical and mental capabilities will constantly change. While this is not an easy lesson to learn, it has been fundamentally necessary to learn it. It’s part of the acceptance of my condition.

I think that is the understanding of what it’s truly like to persevere, adapt, and change.

This is one more thing to add to my ever-growing list of silver linings that MS has weaved into the tapestry of my life.


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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Olga Roth avatar

Olga Roth

It's truly amazing how a diagnosis of MS makes you see What's really important life!

Chris Martin avatar

Chris Martin

Your timing is great. I enjoyed the article a lot. Ultimately we are more resilient than we would otherwise know without external 'stressers'. Peace! Chris



Thank you for this outlook. I've been trying to work out a type of 'mantra' that i can repeat whenever i feel 'energetic' and want to walk around the house twice instead of once KNOWING that tomorrow i will not be able to walk properly to a room never mind around the house. I just couldn't seem to believe that there would be consequences to spending my energy unwisely. Now i can just tell myself REMEMBER THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT! thankyou. x

Wendy avatar


Love it!

judy Roberts avatar

judy Roberts

Very nicely put. Thank you for the rminders.

Tom Anderson avatar

Tom Anderson

Yes, a lovely read. But I'm always a bit skeptical when I read about the good things that MS brings on. But to your point, it is interesting to note that needed changes of perspective on things due to health consequences, occur to the majority as we age. There are the lucky lucky lucky ones who just keep on rolling at high speed to the end, but that is rare. My friend who helped me out a lot with physical house stuff, has just went thru a year after a stroke realizing that he is no different than others, and he has to change some of his expectations. So young however, when most of us are diagnosed, forces us to consider alternatives much sooner. Is that a good or a bad thing? Which way would have been better, I don't know. I’m prone to make my own story sound good, but what is the actual truth?


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