Looking to the future
Personal development · Article
As soon as you’re diagnosed with MS you begin thinking about the future. It’s only human.
You have doubts. You have hopes. Things feel different. Perhaps a little uncertain.
Since my diagnosis, day-to-day life has seen some changes, but I’ve got used to this – the need to tolerate change – as it happens, when it happens.
It’s only natural for symptoms to change how you experience life, but you learn to evolve with them. Each day is different, which makes me realize how changeable this disease is.
Living with MS gives you reason to seize every moment, and acts as a reminder that life is supposed to be lived to the fullest. Even though sometimes this is difficult, preparing for any difficulties you may face allows you to welcome in any unexpected joys you didn’t see coming.
I often think about what my life will bring me in the future, and how I will deal with any further changes to my lifestyle, but to some extent it’s best to just deal with things as they come. Rather than worrying prematurely.
The most important thing to remember is that change to your life is not necessarily bad.
Even though an MS diagnosis can be deeply challenging it’s something to accept and move on from. The sooner you come to peace with it, the better you are going to feel within yourself.
When MS came along, the idea of my future became chaotic. Getting through each day in one piece felt like an achievement. But as I began to adjust to my new reality, I felt able to sketch out a new future, an entirely different one from before.
I saw my ‘new’ life as an opportunity. I wanted to build a life with more meaning, packed full of new experiences and adventures. I decided to say ‘yes’ to things that I would typically avoid pre-diagnosis, such as spontaneous weekends away or last-minute meals out. Of course, some amount of planning was necessary, but the rewards to my mental health were enormous.
My life now has structure, and even though I’m keeping busy with my work and my studies, I have ensured that there is flexibility within that framework to enjoy life and to do these things on the spur of the moment. I am now in a job where I choose my hours, and I am taking a part-time Ph.D; which I work on when circumstances allow me to. It was vital to me after being diagnosed to not get tied down by external factors in my life, as MS is challenging enough.
On New Year’s Eve, I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I reflect on the previous year and loosely set goals for the coming one. They can be as small as finally sorting out the pots in my garden or as big as submitting my thesis by Easter. Anyone with MS, or who has just gone through a pandemic, knows that plans can change, and we have to roll with it. If something happens and I can’t achieve a goal I’ve set, I simply reset it. I have learned to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
It’s taken a while to reach this point, but there is no point in stressing about something I cannot change. On the worst days with MS, which often strike with no warning, I accept that life will be a little slower for a while, and certain plans must be put on hold. I have rebranded them as my MS duvet days; it sounds more like self-care than a relapse or flare-up, and I try to use that time to take stock and gather my resources once more. For as MSers, we surely are a resourceful bunch and we should be proud of that.