Positive Aspects of MS
One of the things I hate about having a visible disability is seeing the look of well-meaning pity on people’s faces. The other day someone patted my arm encouragingly as I was struggling along, “poor you” radiating from her eyes in waves of sympathy.
It gets on my nerves because I don’t feel “poor” at all. I have so many positives in my life, and this got me thinking about the positive things about having MS. Obviously I would prefer not to have a chronic, disabling illness, but in some ways it has enriched and improved my life. You must think I’m crazy for thinking this, but let me explain.
1. Inner Strength
Someone once said, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” or words to that effect. This is certainly true of MS. When I was diagnosed I didn’t know anything about the condition and spent many a dark moment reading horror stories online about what could happen further down the line.
I lived in fear of relapse and progression but now, eight years later, I realize it hasn’t killed me and although I live with disability, I feel emotionally armour-plated. Little things don’t phase me anymore and I have an inner confidence that has helped me realize my rights as a disabled person and enabled me to write about my experiences and support other people.
2. Sympathy and Empathy
Sometimes I have less sympathy for people when they moan about their problems, thinking to myself, “At least you can walk!” Most of the time though I feel empathy for others and have learned that people live with all sorts of issues, sometimes invisible, and they have to carry on. People think we’re all brave, but what choice do we have? MS has made me much more tolerant, patient and compassionate and I believe I’m a better person because of it.
3. Happiness – What’s Important in Life?
I count my blessings more now than I ever did before diagnosis. I have a wonderfully supportive family; two beautiful, healthy, happy children; a lovely home in a safe, affluent neighbourhood; just about enough money to live on; and a wonderful, loving husband. I don’t take any of these things for granted as I know now that everything is temporary and it could all change.
I appreciate simple things like the sun on my face, clean bed sheets and a good book! I used to be on the move all the time, thinking about my career or striving to compete with other people, but now I’m content with what I have and that’s a nice feeling.