The Contrast Between Positivity and the Realities of MS

The Contrast Between Positivity and the Realities of MS
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I am tired of having multiple sclerosis. I am just so tired of this disease. And you know what? That is OK.

Being tired of MS does not negate my gratitude. It does not replace my joy and zest for life. It is granting myself the grace to be honest about how I feel. I am far too adept at disguising pain, hiding sadness, and ignoring anger.

Ever the optimist, I can find good in almost every situation or experience. I have worked for years at cultivating a positive mindset. Yet, even the most grateful being would be shaken by my reality. This is not to discourage optimism or its merits. It is to acknowledge my humanity. It is to accept the duality that exists in so many with this disease.

Far easier said than done.

I peer over the cliff of perennial optimism to reality below. The distance between them has never been as vast. I see danger and virtue in each, yet I have trouble identifying with either. The yin and yang of my existence.

Optimism can be a dangerous standard for anyone suffering. We are encouraged to stay positive, yet so often realities are in stark contrast. I limit the honest expression of my experiences to maintain the status quo. This can be exhausting and depressing. Each of us deserves to feel the gamut of our emotions. We deserve to do so without fear of reprisal or rejection.

I spent time with my family this week. As part of a family of avid boaters, my father wanted to take the boat on the bay. Excitement coursed through my veins. I craved sacred time on the bay. In almost the same moment, my heart sank. I wanted to refute my parents’ concerns about my joining them. Although they said it was ultimately my decision, the pain soaring through my foot drop gave me my answer.

I smiled through tears as I watched them depart. At that moment, I resented everything about my MS. I cursed its existence and severity. I pitied the way it has irrevocably changed my life.

I did not need reminding to stay positive. No one needed to point out I had so much more than most. I did not need to hear that my cup was half full. Even in the throes of sadness, this much is true. Yet, that does not disqualify the hurt or negate my heartache. It is important to metabolize its validity. Only then can I somehow reconcile each.

Positivity is not so much about ignoring our challenges as it is about accepting them. We are each a sum of our parts. The good and the bad, the pain and the healing, and the hope and the fears. Each comprises the patchwork of our existence. Each illustrates a moment in our journey.

Alone, they are singular. Sewn together, they complement one another, illustrating the beauty and strength in each of us. I can think of nothing more positive.

***

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.

Jennifer is a health writer and weekly columnist on multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, Jennifer is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Now with secondary-progressive MS, Jennifer hopes to elevate the patient voice to better the lives of those living with the disease. 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 at home in Orange County, California, with her husband and golden retriever.
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Jennifer is a health writer and weekly columnist on multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, Jennifer is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Now with secondary-progressive MS, Jennifer hopes to elevate the patient voice to better the lives of those living with the disease. 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 at home in Orange County, California, with her husband and golden retriever.
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7 comments

  1. Raegan says:

    I love the brutal honesty of this post and it resonates with me! I consider myself a positive person but I love how you describe it as not about ignoring the challenges but accepting them for what they are. I think that is a perfect explanation so thank you for that. Even though I have MS, I still look for the silver linings even though sometimes they are hard to find and that’s OK.

    I loved this post, thank you ❤️

  2. Alison says:

    Jennifer your amazing words are a real affirmation for my constant hidden struggles to remain positive. Another welcome reason to Smile 🙂 Thank you so much.

  3. Allison says:

    So apropos that I read it aloud to my ever supportive, loving husband. I echo the thoughts and sentiments of the other comments, and will forward today’s blog to a select few who will appreciate it. Jennifer, thank you

  4. Charles Lumia says:

    Good story Jennifer! I think that’s a good mindset to have. I try to do similar, staying both positive and realistic. Bad stuff happens to everyone, some more than others of course, but it does no good to constantly dwell on it. Not much we can do but accept and deal with it.

    • Graham Anderson says:

      I’m definitely a positive, half glass full guy. Always been that way. I just hate MS for how and what it steals. Shame is that my glass is often half full with hydrogen peroxide!

  5. RM Coble says:

    Thank you Jennifer for your story. In this story you have framed what we all feel about the loses MS has given to us while trying to remain positive. The truth is that MS is what it is, therefore it is okay to feel anger and loss. We are boaters as well, and the waves while out overtake my balance issue, which has impeded my enthusiasm to leave our slip. Also, fatigue, both physical and MS fatigue make docking a real challenge, especially in summer weather. So, I don’t go with my husband as in the past. I, push myself to look as normal as possible, especially when needed to help with a grandchild. These little things that push us to keep going are so important, even if the next day is spent in bed, or resting all day. I do what I can, and learning to embrace the loss and limitations is a daily challenge.

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