A diagnosis of MS helped me go for what I really want in life

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by BioNews Staff |

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Five photos showing individuals with multiple sclerosis, who are sharing their real-life stories during MS Awareness Month, are hung with clips on a string above the words 'MS Community Spotlight.'
A close-up of a woman with long, blond hair, wearing an Adidas winter cap, a scarf, and a winter jacket. She is standing outdoors in a snow-covered city.

Sabrina says she made important lifestyle changes after her MS diagnosis. (Photos courtesy of Sabrina)

Day 26 of 31

This is Sabrina’s story:

My name is Sabrina, and I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2016, when I was 23. (Editor’s note: Sabrina asked that her last name not be used.) At the time, I was studying Arabic, Turkish, and economics. I had been frustrated for a while because I couldn’t remember things as easily anymore and I had trouble focusing. My grades were still fine, but I felt like I was out of place at the university.

A close-up of a woman and a man standing in front of what appears to be a mosque.

Sabrina poses with a friend in Amman, Jordan.

I started experiencing weird sensations like paresthesia, or tingling, but didn’t pay too much attention to it. At some point, my vision started to suffer, specifically in my left eye; the lights and colors seemed a bit off. At the same time, I got my first pair of glasses, so when a headache and eye pain started, I thought it was because of the glasses.

The first time I realized something was off was when I took a quick break from studying, went outside, and the tree looked weird, with several additional branches. Also, the church next door suddenly had two towers. It took me a bit, but then it hit me: I was seeing double.

It was evening, and the doctor’s offices were closed, so I went to the hospital. After several hours, they checked my eyes, told me I had double vision, and said it was most likely optic neuritis. They said I could wait a few hours and get an MRI. I had school exams that week, so I declined and went home. The double vision was gone the next day, but the other symptoms weren’t.

After I was done with the exams, I saw a neurologist in my hometown. I had an MRI and other fun things like a lumbar puncture. I was then diagnosed with MS.

A close-up of a woman and her black dog inside a vehicle. The dog has a long tongue hanging out.

Sabrina poses for a photo with her dog, Laya.

I wasn’t too surprised, as I had already done some research about my symptoms. I was glad to know what it was because I wanted to do everything I could to find a way to live with the disease. So I educated myself as best as I could about the cause of the disease and how to support my body to deal with it and avoid relapses.

It was time for some serious changes in lifestyle and mindset. My head had never been my friend, and I started to question those harmful patterns, the negative self-talk, and the catastrophizing. I completely changed my diet, added supplements, started exercising, quit studying, and established new patterns while dropping old ones.

I started to travel, which I had always wanted to do but was afraid. I started a blog to share my holistic approach, and now, almost eight years in, I’m happy that I decided to manage the disease without medications. I am now a much healthier version of myself than I was before the diagnosis.

In recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March, the MS Community Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by MS, written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more stories like this, using the hashtag #MSSpotlight, or read the full series.