When I was diagnosed with MS I was only 19. Well, nearly 20 - it was two weeks before my birthday. It took me a while to tell any of my friends. I didn’t want sympathy and I needed to adjust to it myself.
How I told my friends
After a couple of months I told my closest group of friends through group chat. Might as well tell them all in one big hit, hey? Their responses were mixed, ranging from a short message: ‘sorry to hear that’, to long, caring and genuine replies back.
It was difficult at first to tell anyone other than my family, because I wanted to bury my head in the sand. Most people have heard of MS is but are unsure of what it is. This was another reason why I bottled it up to begin with.
Understanding my challenges
It was helpful when my friends were honest with me, not afraid to admit they didn’t know much about the condition and asked questions. A lot of them wanted to learn more about MS so they could understand the challenges I face.
I go through phases of severe fatigue - not just tiredness but MS tiredness. Because of this I don't feel up for socialising at times. My friends know this and send me random check ins. A simple ‘how are you today?’ makes me feel a little less alone.
Looking at the upside of being diagnosed, having MS makes you realise who your real friends are. I may have a smaller quantity of friends now, but they are the best of the best. They treat me exactly the same as before. I don't get any special treatment and that’s how I like it.
I’m lucky to have such fantastic support from my close friends, who have taken on a number of fundraising events in aid of people living with MS.
Now I’m working on a project with my friends Charlotte and Georgia to raise awareness of MS. Bossing MS was first created when my friend needed a topic for her final photography degree work.
She quickly discovered that MS was a perfect focus, not only to increase awareness but to diminish people's misconceptions of the condition. Even though my friends have now graduated from university, the project is very much ongoing.
We truly are bossing MS together.
Michelle Holkham has been bossing MS since 2013. She’s passionate about health and fitness, is a sports centre supervisor, spinning instructor and MS fundraiser.