How do you define who you are? Does it change with the job you have or your role in life? Does it depend on where you live or the possessions you have? Maybe it's what you do for fun. Whether you ski or paint pictures.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 18. I would say at that point my life merged left. It didn't stop. It didn't back up. It didn't even completely change direction. It merged...left.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I didn't really know what that meant. I just thought it was a disease where you eventually end up in a wheelchair. MS is thought to be a neurological disease affecting the brain and nervous system. In short any part of the brain and body connected to a nerve can be affected. There are several types of MS. The type I have is relaping remitting MS.
A large part of MS is invisible so at first it was easy for me to appear "normal". In the beginning, if I didn't tell people I had MS, they wouldn't have known. This doesn't mean it wasn't affecting my daily life. It just meant that the challenges I faced on a day to day basis were not always visible to everyone else.
It was critically important to me that people didn't see me as different. Different in my mind meant weak, not good enough and not normal. Since most of my symptoms were invisible, it was surprisingly easy to hide my illness from the rest of the world.
If you didn't live with me or do physical activities with me, you would not have known that I was running shorter and shorter distances before I would stumble and fall. Unless I complained, you would not have known that the top half of my right leg was completely numb. You wouldn't have known that going shopping and trying on clothes was exhausing and impossible most days. You would never know that daily activities such as drying off after a shower, doing my hair, getting dressed and cleaning the house were huge challenges. Everything I did in a day needed to be planned out in order to compete everything I wanted to do and still appear "normal" to the outside world.
About 10 years ago, the disease began to progress and I started to show some of the more visible signs. I can no longer run, jump or swim. I can walk for short periods of time and wear a brace that allows me to raise my left foot.
I was being forced to deal with the fact that I had this disease and that I could no longer hide it from the world. I had a choice, I could get down on myself for what I could no longer do or I could accept what was so and move on. I chose to accept it.
Don't get me wrong, when I found I could no longer do the things I loved to do I was sad. I would probably even describe it as a grieving period but then I would look at what I could do and that is where I found strength and power. Where I use to jog, hike and take workshops in Ju Jitzu. I instead tried yoga, Thai Chi and took cooking classes.
I have learned that knowledge is power. Letting people in and accepting support is a good thing. Some people say I have an amazingly positive attitude. I say, it's a choice. Circumstances will happen in life. We all have a choice in how we see those circumstances and how we respond to them.
I was diagnosed with MS when I was 18. I would say at that point my life merged left. It didn't stop. It didn't back up. It didn't even completely change directions. It merged...left.