World MS Day: What Does Independence Mean to You?

On May 25, the global multiple sclerosis community will come together to celebrate World MS Day and share what makes them #strongerthanMS .

Our bloggers considered this year’s theme of independence and discussed how they stay strong in their daily lives, while navigating the challenges MS may bring. Here’s what they said:

What does independence mean to you?

Being able to do the things that I want to do, when I want to do them. I am independent to make choices for myself about my healthcare, my daily activities, my career, my family, and my life. – Angela Brandt

Independence to me means living your life the way you want to every day with little or no limitations. – Karen O’Shea

Independence means to me the freedom and the ability to make choices that will determine or shape my life. – Retha Sisler

How has your view of independence changed since your diagnosis?

When I was younger it meant being able to come and go as I pleased, and do whatever I wanted when I wanted, whilst taking family considerations into account. – Declan Groeger

I do not take it for granted. With MS being so unpredictable, each jog that I take, each day that I go without symptoms, is such a victory. I know that tomorrow could look completely different than today and I make the most of life. I also understand that even if I am no longer able to physically do something in the future that I can still exert my independence in how I choose to handle what comes my way and how I continue to live life. – Angela Brandt

Since my diagnosis, I have realized that it is most important to make my own decisions and to live consciously. Independence for me starts in the simple, small things like a nice day, a good meal or a day without pain or fatigue. I try to see life as it is and don’t let MS live my life for me. – Birgit Bauer

Fill in the blank: _______ makes me independent from my MS.

My outlook on life makes me independent from my MS. – Retha Sisler

My love of life makes me independent from my MS. – Willeke Van Eeckhoutte

Both the stubbornness and placidness of my personality has made me independent from my MS! The stubbornness of my personality fights with every ounce of my being to keep going while the placidness is the part of me that takes a break when someone says ‘You need to rest. You’re doing too much’. – Karen O’Shea

What advice would you give to others with MS on being independent?

I would advise them to stay as fit, mentally and physically, as possible for as long as possible. Both aspects of fitness are equally important. – Declan Groeger

Look at yourself and your abilities. Trust yourself and create your own good life, create your own network with people who can support you if you need it and ask for help if it is necessary. Remember that asking for help is not shameful; rather it is a sign of courage to create your own livable life. – Birgit Bauer

Give yourself the opportunity to be independent, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. – Willeke Van Eeckhoutte

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