“I Have MS, but MS Does Not Have Me.” Depends on You.

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

There’s an expression and many claim to have said it, it’s a good one. It goes, “I have MS, but MS does not have me.” Although I don’t know the original author, the principle is the same, whether it is multiple sclerosis or any chronic illness or adversity…claim it, don’t let it claim you.

One honest soul blurted out in a room full of people with MS once, “What the heck does that mean anyway?” It was an honest question. Many laughed, but I get it. I explained what I thought it meant. It means that you can choose to let MS own you; you can live your life with MS dragging you around like you’re its next victim. Or you can choose to own your MS.

So, how do you own something that has taken so much from you? It starts with staying positive. You can become an advocate. You can help others who are barely hanging on. You can write books or start a blog. You can lobby for laws that need to change in order to better serve the community. Do something to better the lives of those living with this or any other chronic disease. It is the best screw you that you can give to multiple sclerosis.

You can take a proactive approach to each and every day, knowing when you are at your best and worst, and plan it so that each and every minute is lived to its best. But, wait for it…there is a twist. You need to do all of this while not letting multiple sclerosis take center stage. It must be peripheral. You must not be encompassed by and focused on it and enveloped by it.

This is a kin to walking a tightrope, trying to manage your life and live on top of MS while not letting it dictate your life. Knowing how to do this is not lent to us with a diagnosis. It is part of the course of our MS. This is why we are here for each other. This is how we learn. I know a good place to start though. I figured this out about a year after diagnosis…fake it until you make.

When I was diagnosed, I had no idea I’d become an advocate, write for MS communities and even author MS books. The only thing I knew was that a positive, peaceful inside would help slow this tornado of a disease. And so, I decided to fake it until I made it. I was going to own this, it wasn’t going to own me. So start there. Stand up and say it, before you go any further. After that, proceed until you are on top.

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