MS: I’m writing this to you. My Dad was diagnosed with you 22 years ago.
I’m going to write about the cards you’ve dealt and how I’ve risen from them. I’m going to write about the five ways you’ve shown me pain. And five ways I’ve become stronger because of that.
Despite the fact it’s my Dad who’s suffering with your diagnosis, you’ve affected us all in different ways. But as much I’ve hated you being in my life, you are my life. You're the reason I am, and we are as a family, so resilient. Here goes.
I think it took a lot of courage to walk into school to finish my GCSEs after seeing my Dad rushed into the hospital the night before, to try to continue as normal as I could. I smiled a lot through the pain and cried secretly on the 79 bus when no one could see me.
It took courage as a child to be strong for my Dad who was going through so much, and for my mum who was trying to look after three kids amidst the chaos.
It took courage to continue trying to live as normal a life as my teenage peers were, enjoying myself at social arrangements and continuing to have fun despite the difficulties. I could have broken down and never left the house for fear something would happen - but I carried on. I’ve taken this into my twenties now: be strong through hardship. The light will come.
Is that even a word? Maybe not, but I think it’s relevant. As a kid growing up, I had REAL stuff happening around me, heartbreaking stuff that shocked me senseless. And so I find life’s petty dramas are just that - petty. I didn’t and still don’t have time for silly arguments, brainless gossip or fake people.
Life should be REAL - messy, hard, fun, exciting and everything in between. Unnecessary drama is created by people that haven’t got much else happening. It’s irrelevant and not worth it. Don’t surround yourself with it.
MS, despite the fact it’s my Dad who’s suffering with your diagnosis, you’ve affected us all in different ways.
I think living with someone with MS has given me some sort of intuition to connect to people on a deeper level, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve felt extreme sadness and have hidden it from the world. Perhaps it’s because I’ve felt pain and haven’t known how to express that. Perhaps it’s because I realise that it can feel easier to put on a brave face than to admit you’re struggling.
I hate knowing people could be internally suffering. Communication is always key.
What is 'it'? I hear you asking. I’m at major risk of sounding like a cliché but I’m going to roll with it. I don’t just mean ‘Live your life’ as the saying goes - despite the fact that MS has shown me how quickly life can be changed forever.
When I say ‘it’, I mean 'it' as in everything. The coffee I buy in the morning from the friendly waitress? I enjoy that coffee, appreciate the fresh skies as I smile at her goodbye. Do smile - it can make someone’s day. I take nothing for granted.
I thank the universe for letting me breathe for another day, laugh for another second and make use of my senses. MS, you’ve shown me that senses like seeing, smelling or touching can be heavily affected. So I use my senses to give myself kindness and to other people around me.
No two lives are the same
MS, you’ve made life difficult. I’ve just moved out and I would love to show my Dad my new flat - but he can’t get up the stairs.
MS, I’d love to visit a restaurant without needing carers to join, or to one day picture my Dad walking me down the aisle. These things won’t happen - but that doesn’t mean life is bad. It’s just different to others, but what two lives are even the same?
MS, I really truly believe that as much as I despise your existence, you’ve made me everything I love about myself today. Although like everyone I can be insecure about many things, I know that deep down I’m strong. I can react fast to ever-changing situations and comfort those in need.
Living with such an unpredictable illness has taught me to live my life with meaning, no fakeness, zero tolerance for bullsh*t and a determination to enjoy the present moment.
I’m learning to accept situations for what they are and surround myself with people who lift me up while appreciating the smaller things. And I wouldn’t call that a bad life at all.
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Does someone close to you have MS? If you're the partner, friend or family member of someone with MS, we'd love to hear your story.