I was diagnosed with relapsing MS in July 2018, with an almost 2-year-old daughter and an empty house.
My husband is a Royal Navy Officer so I was living far from my support networks, and he was at sea when I got my appointment with the consultant.
My life back then was full of exciting new places and new people, but it was often a solitary adventure that left no space for ill health. I remember asking my mum to look after my daughter so that I could go to the appointment. She drove for 5 hours with a weekend bag, and ended up staying 3 weeks (we went shopping!).
My priorities in life changed
Because my circumstances were so inflexible, I had to come to terms with my new needs very quickly. Within months I moved my family back to my hometown in West Yorkshire - which is possibly the most absurd place for a Navy family to settle, being equally nowhere near any coastline.
But as extreme as that move was, I never doubted it. My priorities changed. I used to pride myself on always ‘going it alone’, now I’m surrounded by people who look out for me and my daughter.
A chance to learn from others
My family gave me enough stability to get settled on a treatment and get my relapses under control. But although I was relapse free, my symptoms didn't go away and I was looking for information to help me cope day to day. I knew that there was a lot that I could be doing to improve my situation but was overwhelmed by all the different advice and my ever-growing list of questions.
I came across the Living Well with MS sessions and was excited that I'd get a chance to discuss all these uncertainties and hopefully learn from others in a similar situation. I was also so relieved that there was the option to join virtually because looking after a toddler means that it's hard for me to get to groups.
Time every week to focus on what I need
The sessions were organised in such an easy going, friendly way that I wasn't nervous at all. After the first session, I really looked forward to that time every week where I could sit down with a cup of coffee and just focus on myself and what I need.
The sessions were a good mix of lifestyle, like self-management and goal setting, and practical tips. There were a lot of jokes and I always left the sessions feeling more motivated and positive.
Getting answers to questions I didn’t know how to ask
I found listening to other people's experiences really useful. It answered a lot of questions I didn't really know how to ask and made my problems seem normal and less scary. This gave me back my confidence, and now me and my daughter are back out there again having adventures!
I have always found it hard to ask for help, but it has been the support of others that has kept me going. I have never regretted reaching out.