Lyrics and Loving Myself: Rediscovering My Lost Voice

Beth Ullah avatar

by Beth Ullah |

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“Most of the time, the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you’ll get everything you wish for. Maybe you’ll get more than you ever could have imagined. Who knows where life will take you? The road is long, and in the end, the journey is the destination.” — from the TV series “One Tree Hill”

There’s no denying that I lost my voice following the tumultuous dawn of my multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. To be honest, I possibly lost my voice before then; my diagnosis simply highlighted it.

Living with a condition in which fatigue takes center stage makes you significantly reevaluate your priorities. There’s no longer time to waste on procrastination.

Of course, I’ve had to adjust. When I enrolled in my master’s in neuroscience program in January, there was a voice in the back of my mind saying that the part-time status of my degree work would require full-time hours because of my fatigue, which wouldn’t leave time for anything else. But as they say, “Work smarter, not harder.”

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Something is inspiring about a new beginning. It makes you reevaluate old habits and hobbies.

When dreams meet reality

I remember when we moved back to my hometown in January 2016. I had all these ambitions for this new life; I was going to be that dreamy writer who sat in the same seat of the small-town cafe every day writing her first novel. In fact, I even briefly fantasized about opening my own cafe and bookshop. I also wanted to dust off my voice and join a choir.

None of these things happened. Initially, it was because I needed to pay rent and other bills. Without savings, I knew the fantasy of starting my own business was simply an idealization. The other things, however, seemed more attainable.

Except, I now know, I was in the nine-month hiatus between my MS being a clinically isolated incident and transitioning to aggressive relapsing-remitting MS. In those nine months, I focused on working full time on my new job more than anything else. I did some work on my novel, but it was mostly from the corner of my sofa. Nevertheless, “Orchids in the Spring,” the makings of a novel, was born.

Meanwhile, my MS diagnosis became all-consuming, and the passion and creativity for my writing dwindled. I had a harder and harder time working full time until I was almost only working, sleeping, and eating — until I couldn’t even work anymore.

When reality meets dreams

Fast forward to last September, when my flame of creativity was reignited.

My husband and I moved into our own home. Being in a new town with new opportunities and without the pressures of working full time, and with treatment now behind me, I began to revisit my past ambitions, and what I found there was my inspiration. That creativity and passion hadn’t been completely extinguished after all and was instead smoldering in the background.

I began searching for a choir by posting on a local Facebook group. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. There are certainly more opportunities here, but I couldn’t find anything that appealed to me. I didn’t fancy an a cappella group, and the one with matching polo tops reminded me of a school uniform. Then I started thinking, “I wonder if there’s someone like me, who just wants a little casual sing-song.”

Indeed, there was. It has ended up completely different than I expected. The gates of inspiration and creativity have well and truly opened, and I met someone I now consider to be a good friend. We make music: I sing, and Colin plays the guitar. I’ve found my voice again.

A pleasantly unexpected twist that snuck through my gates of passion, it turns out, is photography. Colin is a professional photographer. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but never ventured much further than basic cellphone pictures. Now, I’m the proud owner of a proper manual camera, and I’m thoroughly enjoy learning how to use it and developing my style.

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“Flickering Light,” a recent example of Beth’s photography, outside the Rose and Crown in Ludlow, England. (Photo by Beth Shorthouse-Ullah)

My inspiration has also led me to dig out my half-finished manuscript for “Orchids in the Spring.” There’s something strikingly reassuring about reading something you wrote years ago, to see the difference in the person you once were compared with who you are now. Not just as a writer, but as a woman.

It’s a humble reminder of the progress and strength I’ve had to develop through the gnarly twists and turns this life has thrown my way.


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.

Comments

MADELINE l NEWTON avatar

MADELINE l NEWTON

i agree if we want something we can find a way to achieve it ....may be some hard work to achieve it but MS doesn't have to stop you ,we are stronger than we think ...you have done so much for your self .congratulations on getting what you wanted...singing and now photography ...these are great and your time to finish that novel is in the future for you ...you can do it ...i am so proud of what you have done and wrote it here for others to read that you can do it if you work at it ...love and happiness to you ....

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Wendy Hovey avatar

Wendy Hovey

When Covid silenced my Women's Chorale, I felt as though I personally had been silenced as well. I never knew how much I relied on singing to help me stay centered and optimistic. Keep it up!

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