My name is Holly Ridgeon. I’m 24 and got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 22. Here’s my story.
In 2017 I woke up one morning and my left arm was completely numb and heavy. I didn’t think much of it, I just thought I had pins and needles.
The following day both my arm and left leg was numb. The next day the whole left side of my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes were numb and heavy. At this point I was terrified.
How I was diagnosed with MS
After a lot of trips back and forth from the doctors, I broke down crying and begged for someone to take it further.
I’d had enough of being told that it was maybe a stroke or an allergic reaction. Finally I got sent to a consultant who then sent me for a MRI scan and a lumbar puncture.
Before I knew it, I was called back into the hospital and was told the most devastating news that I as a 22 year old would ever want to hear: I’m sick. But wait for it, there is no cure.
I broke down crying. The first thing that came to my head was: ‘I’m going to be paralysed’. I got reassured by the consultant that they have so much more medication for MS now, and they call it the snowflake disease, because everyone is different.
Keeping it all bottled up led to depression
When I left the hospital I threw my diagnosis to the back of my head. A few months after I went on holiday and I tried to live my life as normally as I could. But I never spoke about my MS to anyone, and keeping it bottled up in my head led to depression.
In 2019 I was suffering from depression and my multiple sclerosis caught up with me. I was sent for scans to make sure my lesions had not spread to my spine. The results came back clear.
I was suffering with fatigue, muscle spasms, numbness and was fighting a urine infection for a whole year. I kept all my symptoms bottled up and still never spoke about my MS to anyone. No one apart from close friends and family knew I even had MS. I was so embarrassed by my illness and felt like such a burden I didn’t want anyone to know.
I ended up going to counselling, where I let the weight off my shoulders. I finally felt like I had someone to speak to. Telling someone how I really felt and what was going on with my body made me feel so much better.
What did I learn from counselling?
I learnt that we are not burdens. We’re humans and we should not go through this alone. My message to anyone who is newly diagnosed or who is struggling now is please just remember we have good days and bad.
Today may be your bad day but tomorrow could be your best. Please don’t bottle it up, speaking about it can help. I just live every day I possibly can to the best of my ability. I don’t look to the future I just try and live my present happily.
My personal motto is: we are warriors. Always and forever.
MS on your mind? Our MS Helpline gives emotional support and information to anyone living with MS. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays on freephone 0808 800 8000. You can send us a direct private message on Facebook messenger between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. We also have a confidential email service: [email protected]. So drop us a line and we’ll get back to you within five working days.