Is Sadness One of Your MS Symptoms? That’s OK

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

I never get a break from my multiple sclerosis, and it’s progressing. But being grateful for something most consider awful takes the power away from it. My life with MS began my writing career. I don’t just live with MS, I write about it. I have authored a children’s book and too many blog posts to keep track. I feed my kids with it. This is what I do to survive.

My life is multiple sclerosis. Living it, circumventing it, and finding some sort of beauty in the chaos. I try not to dwell on the sadness. But recently, on a cold, gray, winter day, I thought of the line from the book The Fault in Our Stars, “Some pain demands to be felt.” Perhaps the winter is our cue to allow ourselves to feel sadness.

How do you think I spent Christmas Day? I spent it alone, in bed, eating vegan chocolate spice cake, watching reruns on television. My legs burned. My head felt like it was imploding. I cried a lot. And before long, I stopped feeling guilty for being sad. I realised I was supposed to feel this way.

As your eternally optimistic, MS-thriving friend, let me tell you: sometimes it’s okay to be sad. If it seems I’m always happy about MS, that’s not the impression I want to send. That’s not healthy. I am sad. Plenty. Especially during the winter, when the days are shorter and the air is cold. There are holes at the holiday tables where loved ones used to sit.

Sometimes you have to let the leaves fall. You have to stay in bed alone on holidays, cry and shove your face in a cake. Sometimes you have to cry because sadness demands to be felt as much as physical pain does.

And after you’ve experienced the pain, you must move on. Spring is coming, and it brings so many amazing things. Did you know there are over 320 species of hummingbirds? That they are the only bird that can fly backwards? How would we ever stare in fascination at a hummingbird if we hadn’t known winter? If I never felt the cold, I’m not sure I’d ever understand the beauty of the spots on a monarch butterfly, or a Black-Eyed Susan in bloom.

Yes, sadness demands to be felt, but it also demands to be left behind, and for warmth and hope to take its place.

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