Shortly after my 27th birthday, I was hospitalized for five days resulting in a diagnosis of relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis. It took me several tumultuous years to come to grips with what it meant to live with MS and arrive at some level of acceptance and peace.
I came to a crossroads and had to make a decision on what I was going to do with this new life-altering information about myself. Like any decision in life, I had to choose which path I was going to follow. Do I let this disease define and destroy me or do I use this diagnosis of MS to empower and strengthen me?
I was floundering for several years post-diagnosis. I felt lost and was searching for answers to questions I thought were completely unanswerable. I couldn’t get out of my own way, so to speak, and was blaming a lot of that upheaval in my life on multiple sclerosis.
As time went on and I sifted through the emotions, I realized that I had the solution all along. It was up to me to make a decision on how I wanted to proceed and how I desired to live my life.
I made a conscious decision to stop giving MS any more power. I have chosen, as hard as it may be on some days, not to let MS weigh me down and not to thrive on having a chronic illness. I have decided that MS is not the root of all evil in my world, and in doing so, have made multiple sclerosis less scary and in fact, powerless. I think once I started taking personal responsibility and not blaming MS for all that was perceivably going wrong with my life, then the planets started to align and everything started to make sense. We all have something that we deal with and MS is my something.
I think arriving at the MS crossroads is a process and one that everyone must go through in their own way and in their own time. I sometimes look back and wish I didn’t have such a hard time reaching this place of acceptance but it was the journey that I had to take. No one could do it for me or show me the way. I had to fight through all of the different emotions and finally say enough is enough. I chose my life and MS was not going to dictate or control how I lived it. I decided to let this experience strengthen me to a level that I had no idea I could achieve.
Don’t get me wrong. It is a struggle to stay on this path, and there are times when I am tried and tested, and faith in myself is put into question. The difference is that now I can recognize when I’m falling off course. I understand that I will have these down times; it is normal and expected but I let it serve as confirmation and a reminder of the path that I have chosen.
I believe that we as humans have free will. I believe we have the power to make choices and can truly dictate our own lives and future. I’m convinced that we are the only ones on an individual level who can decide how we are going to deal with, and handle life with multiple sclerosis.
Yes, sometimes I feel like my life is one big cliché but that is how I cope and that is how I survive. When faced with the MS crossroads, I will always choose the path in which living comes before the disease.