Happy Birthday MS: Lesson’s I’ve Learnt

Karen O’Shea
Written by
Karen O’Shea

Next month will be my eleventh year living with MS. Eleven years! I have to say that it has gone by in the blink of an eye.

I woke up this morning feeling less than my usual chirpy self. There has been a considerable amount of emotional upheaval in my life recently, and I think I need to take a moment or two to reflect. With my eleventh MS birthday in mind, my reflection takes me back to the very start of my MS journey, reminding me of exactly how far I have come. I think this kind of reflection is necessary for all of us on occasion, because it is very easy to get bogged down by life’s twists and turns. With that in mind, I begin my reflection on lesson’s I’ve learnt, starting with this quote:

“The devil whispered in my ear ‘You are not strong enough to withstand this storm’. Today I whispered in the devil’s ear ‘I am the storm’.”

Looking back to the day I was diagnosed, I wish somebody had shared this quote with me or at least reassured me that I would survive the arrival of this unwelcome visitor in my life. I spent six months in a very dark place that was neither constructive or kind to myself and my general wellbeing. But I fought back and somehow eventually climbed out of the abyss to begin a new life that I had not asked for but was determined to live to the best of my ability. That was lesson one: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Lesson two was learning to say no. This was a long process but eventually I got there. Being a people pleaser and putting everyone else’s needs and wants before my own started to become detrimental to my own vastly depleting energy levels. Today I say no without an explanation. I also have no guilt about it. Those who value you will understand. Those who don’t are not worthy of your time anyway.

Lesson three was figuring out that although relapse can come knocking, I need to pick myself backup and keep fighting. I know all too well that struggle of feeling that your body is letting you down but also I know that we all have that innate fighting spirit within us that goes ‘Nicely played MS but have you forgotten who I am. I, (insert your name here) will never give up. I am stronger than you think and will fight you with everything I have because I have a courage that will see me through whatever you throw at me’.

Lesson four: even though sometimes life is different to what I expected, there are plenty things that see me through. My love for music and singing is always high up on my list. I love walking and getting out in nature and when I have negative thoughts in my head I know the best thing for me is to get out in the fresh air. All life’s problems seem smaller somehow. Also writing in my journal is helpful in order for me to resolve any troubles I have. Spending time with my MS friends is always a positive experience, each and everyone going through their own experiences but bringing their unwavering love and support every step of the way.

So all in all these eleven years has been an arduous journey at times. I describe it as an ‘experience’ because that is exactly what it has been. I weathered the storm and have no doubt I will weather any ones to come.

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