MS Progression: The Importance of Not Giving Up

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

The other day I was laying on the couch, playing with my ukulele. Complete silence apart from the chords I was learning on my new instrument. But without the ukulele, I realized, there was just silence. My babies aren’t babies anymore – I now have a teen and an almost ten-year-old, so they are in school. My husband is at work. There is silence where there used to be chaos. I used to feel such exhaustion that I would literally cry in front of anyone and everyone! But now there is silence and “Giving-up-itis” is something I struggle with a lot. I can tell you for sure, the silence cuts deeper than the exhaustion ever did.

I realize that I would now be labelled an older woman with progressing multiple sclerosis. I was always the young newbie but I am in my forties now and it’s been TEN years. The house is quiet, I’m not needed as much. I can sit down. It is so strange and eerie.

I think I needed to admit that to myself, in order to own and embrace my new stage. I had to really see and acknowledge the changes that were happening. If you don’t admit this to yourself, you can get eaten up in the silence. You lose your sense of purpose. You stop caring for yourself. Once I lose that, I am done.

Dr. John Leach, from Portsmouth University, suggested in recent studies that people can die from just “giving up on life” and that it can happen in just three days – scary! I’ve held on for ten years, so I don’t think this applies to me. Despite living for ten years with the word quadriplegia hanging over my head, they’ve been happy years! Now, I will just have to learn to navigate this new stage in a different way. I must remain motivated!

When I saw the study, I was shocked. It really made me wonder about myself. Was I giving up? I hadn’t showered in three days. The lip of the tub scares me. I was not motivated to overcome that. The silence. No one seemed to really need me anymore. I learned, I must fill my day up with little things. Little purposes and motivations. I must continue to move while I can.

Dr. Leach continues, “Motivation is essential for coping with life and if that fails, apathy is almost inevitable.” With that, I asked myself what motivates me? Music does! Dressing up like I am going into an office, outside my home, motivates me. I’m a weirdo - I like dressing funky. My garden; growing tomatoes reminds me of my grandfather. His love and care for me is always motivating. It is something I want my children to witness and, hopefully, they will pass down to their children.

I asked my friend to help me garden. We live in a farmhouse that was moved from another town, into a busy town, with a train and a quaint city. It’s – interesting. Our back yard is a municipal parking lot except for one, fenced in plot of land. We grew squash, zucchini, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, kale and then a massive number of gigantic sunflowers. Instead of building a fence between our yard and the dentist next door, we built a fence of sunflowers. Four women in three days came up to me and told me how our sunflowers saved them on a bad day. I literally hobbled out of my garden each time, hugged these strangers and introduced myself. Now I know their names and we say “hi” in passing each day. The sunflowers saved them. Them telling me, saved me. It gave me great purpose.

What motivates you? What lights you up and makes your eyes sparkle? Sometimes we get used to chores but when the chores are gone it’s simply up to us to decide what motivates us. What motivates you can sometimes be a hard question to answer but it may also be the most important.

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Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus
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