Dear Newly Diagnosed Self

I’m sorry, but there’s not much I can say that will make it easier or less scary for you right now. I know the first thing you’ll want to know is what the hell multiple sclerosis even is anyway, since you weren’t prepared for this – these words weren’t on your radar. If I did have one piece of advice it would be not to use Wikipedia as your source of information. Get your friends to research it for you – it’ll inform them and help prevent you catastrophising. Imagine how the internet would describe in words what love feels like and compare it to your own experience. Exactly.

What you will find out over the next four or so years is that understanding and growth can only come with experience. The experiences you have will be bitter and sweet, but in equal measure. I’m afraid I can’t explain to you in advance what your body will feel like, or how you’ll respond emotionally and I know this will drive you mad as you’re such a massive control freak. But I promise that every difficult moment will pass, you will learn to be patient and you will discover wonderful things you’d never have known otherwise. You won’t appreciate it in the thick of it, but your people will support you and love you more than you’d ever have expected. You won’t drive them away and they will not get bored of you. You will investigate yourself and find prejudices to address and opportunities to educate yourself in disability activism, assistive design and other cool stuff. You will stop making assumptions about other people and treat everyone with more care and caution and patience. You will start to do the same for yourself. You will develop a better understanding of what anxiety feels like and you’ll be able to support other people who struggle with it. This stuff could have taken you a lifetime to learn without MS.

You have no idea what’s coming – I still don’t – but that’s OK. Whatever comes, know that while for a short time it will feel horrible, it will pass and when you come out the other side you will have something good to show for it.

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