Stop Underestimating Me Because Of My MS

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

“Anything anyone else can do, you can do better.” These are the words from my dear father’s mouth as he tries to lift me up when I’m down and “in it.”

“In it” is what my friends and I call that place when we’re just blah and uninspired. My dad’s words always seemed funny. I mean, let’s get real. I cannot run a 5K faster than, well, probably anyone. I can’t even run a 5K anymore. But something about those words, since he first started trying to heal me with them, through them, have resonated with me.

And in a way, he is right. Okay so maybe I can’t run a 5K, but this is the thing with illness; for most, we live our entire lives in a very linear, expected way. Hopefully we graduate from school then get our dream job. You may fall in love, get married and start a family perhaps. And then, one day you wake up, and you are there. Arrived and safe.

Before my MS diagnosis, I was living, but I wasn’t living my best.

I was somewhere between doing what society expected (my familial duties, working) and this safety zone. No risks.

T.S. Elliott once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I knew that quote well. Where had the part of me that once knew it so well gone?

And then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At first I was scared, shocked, but then something occurred to me…something inside me that was buried and hidden for years began to surface. I suddenly had nothing to lose.

My MS reminded me of those dreams - to GO FOR THEM! I have nothing to lose and time is short. The reality is, I don’t know about my future. So each and every day, I go for it. I believe I am living on so many more levels now, so don’t underestimate or pity me.

When your back is against the (MS) wall, you really do live life at a higher frequency. You go for your dreams. You try harder. You have compassion for humanity. Because of the challenges you have to face on a day-to-day basis over the most menial tasks, you develop a strength you never knew you had. There is such indomitable will and strength within you, within us.

I often feel like I’m too scattered and not doing much. But when I look at it objectively, I do more than most people do, without an illness. Not too shabby for “someone with MS.” My life’s dream, to write a book, is happening. My book has been published. I never would have had the guts to start such a task, let alone see it through to publishing without MS.

So maybe my dad was wrong in one sense. I will not run a 5K, but in another very important way he was spot on. We MS’ers are damn good at living. I suspect many of us live life to the fullest, and dare I say it, better than most.

What dream has MS given you the strength to pursue? Share with us on our Facebook page.

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