5 Things MS Has Taught Me About Life

One of the hardest things I learned at age 17 was that things didn’t last forever. I was 17 years old and in the middle of working a haunted house when I realized I couldn’t see anything out of the peripheral of my vision. I remember the frantic scramble to find doctors. I remember being told first the word “glaucoma,” then, “I don’t know actually.” And finally, optic neuritis. For anyone who didn’t realize it at the time, myself included, this would start a journey through a fresh level of hell.

I began IV Solu-Medrol and Prednisone treatments the summer I turned 18. It took us that long to figure out what had happened. It became a relapsing thing that happened year after year, and each year I got told, “You might grow out of it.”

That turned out to be a lie. By the time I was 21, I was told that there was a likelihood this would get worse. That every relapse brought me closer and closer to losing my sight for good, and that it was likely it shortened my lifespan too. Being told that ripped my breath out of my lungs and left me completely stunned. It took until this past year, at age 25, that I was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis, with a rare form of bilateral optic neuritis. It was something I would have to live with forever. The funny thing was that being told at 21, “Your expectancy gets shorter each time.” It taught me some amazing things. I used to live for whatever I wanted. I was reckless.

Here is what my timeline taught me:

1. Don’t take people for granted.

Through your life, there are two types of people. Those that have found their peace, and those that seek chaos. Both are good, but it is better to surround yourself with people that are going to be at peace and understand you, than to try to rage against the chaos.

2. Let yourself rest.

It’s hard, I know. You want to apologize for everything and force yourself in to things that you know you don’t have the energy to do. You want to keep that relationship that’s draining you, go see that movie with your friend, go exercise…but it’s OK to let yourself rest. Rationing yourself is not a bad thing. Breathe and calm down. Life will be there after you’ve taken a minute for you.

3. Do not let others tell you how to feel.

Other people will always tell you what you do and don’t feel. At the end of the day, they don’t live in your body. Do not listen to them, listen to you. You are the most important person to listen to in regards to your own body.

4. You are allowed to need a place to vent.

Just because you don’t want to trouble someone, doesn’t mean that you don’t sometimes need to talk about things in your life too. Some people will label you as selfish for this. You’re not. Trust me.

5. Treasure everything.

Good, bad, chaos, peace – treasure it all. These are the things that let you remember how alive you really are. Fall in love, let yourself feel everything. Even in the worst situation, cherish it. It is all a part of living.

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