To say that life can be funny is, well… funny by any stretch of the imagination. Time is just flying by without it taking notice of those who want to enjoy it that little bit more, or live it that little bit longer. And as I get older, I am trying to cram as many experiences into one day as possible, or even in one year.
There are personal goals that need to be met, articles that need to be shaped into something clear, concise and uplifting, and if possible, new connections to be made. No man’s an island, and as waves come and go, so do we.
Writing is still a tool, although it hasn’t been implemented much the last few months. While inactive holding a pen, the long-term effect of writing is still tangible. Writing is still about bridging communities as well as individuals, and getting the best out of both.
In this way, I want my own life and dissertation to be a canvas for others to write or paint on, to feel motivated and to say, “Yes, I CAN do this, and not only that, I WILL do it!” I therefore hope this blog can help others the same way I was taught motivational skills: by listening, reading, and most of all… fighting.
Life with MS is not just very demanding physically, it’s also mentally and emotionally taxing if you let it. It’s the not knowing if or when you will deteriorate, or wondering when you’ll feel better, even when there is no chance on “being cured” like you would be after having had the flu, for example.
It takes a hero to be able to continuously adjust yourself every day, or every so many hours. Some of my friends who live with MS, have children, busy school schedules and working husbands to consider. The way they squeeze the most out of every day, is simply remarkable.
In fact, and despite not being religious, remember where God says he will not allow anything awful coming into our lives we are not able of handling? The lad might just be right. How many of us PwMS (People with MS) now say that MS is not a death sentence? That life does go on? That, after the initial diagnosis-shock, they are enjoying life so much more now? That, true, MS doesn’t discriminate, but that it gives back so much more than ever thought possible?
It so happens that MS has taken a lot in my life also – early retirement, loss of income and relationships gone sour – but at the same time, MS taught me a few valuable lessons:
- Because of having to retire from work, I can now look after my health full-time
- I can now appreciate the small things in life; a cuddle, a flower, watching the grass grow, watching or hearing a friend or member of my family laugh… the list is literally endless
- I am much stronger than I thought
- Tomorrow is another day, and if I still can’t do what I intended tomorrow, there’s always a day after tomorrow also
- There are so many people out there who really understand how I feel, and what my life has to be like in order for me to live it to the fullest
- That not everyone who smiles at me is a true friend, and that it is 100% within my right to say, “If you can’t accept me at my worst, then you definitely don’t deserve me at my best!”
- And lastly, that anyone diagnosed with MS, has to take it as a second chance on life. It’s a chance to start over, take stock, and do as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow did: “consciously uncouple” yourself from everything that drags you down: people, unreasonable demands, jobs etc.
Personally, I’ve done more guilt-tripping and more self-judging than I could take by trying to readjust my life situation around other people, even when people should have noticed that I was too unwell to even sit down for a while. After all, having to reschedule meetings or cancel days out tells more than I could ever put into words. The moment I broke free from this, was the day I felt reborn because all that mindless thinking, was just very overrated and it didn’t lead to anything.
In the meantime, it’s well worth reiterating some words that will remain my motto for a long time to come, “Dream, Think, Believe, Dare, Do.” I admire Montel Williams for all the passion he puts into advocating MS in the US, and I could have picked his much-used his phrase “I may have MS but MS does not have me.” For a good while it was a crutch to lean on every day, but right now, I’d rather opt for a different benchmark, and therefore chose to underwrite an adapted Walt Disney quote instead.
So yes… I just dream, think, believe, dare, do. Even in the year of my 10th anniversary of my diagnosis this April.
Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with a MS diagnosis, she hopes her words and tenacity can bring justice to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.
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