Having multiple sclerosis (MS) can make small tasks seem impossible. It’s easy to feel like life is something happening to you instead of something that you’re doing.
Feelings of hopelessness can lead to depression, weight gain and further disability. When and where MS strikes is not something we decide, but after that diagnosis, we have many choices and opportunities.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I was a young mother of three who already suffered from depression. I was overweight and smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. My home was in shambles and I was on the brink of divorce.
MS had become more than a disease for me. It was an excuse. I felt like I was at the bottom of the highest mountain as I evaluated my life and realized what I would have to do to start living again.
According to weight standards, I was severely obese. I loved sugar and used food to cover up my emotions. The weight on my legs caused my multiple sclerosis leg symptoms to worsen, making walking difficult.
The idea of working out seemed impossible, yet when I looked in the mirror, I grew increasingly unhappy. I decided to take the first step, and while it was a painful one, I discovered a workout and eating plan that worked for me.
Soon, weight began to fall off and with every lost pound, my legs sighed with relief. I began to enjoy looking in the mirror, not because I was where I wanted to be but because I could see the differences.
Persistence was the key to making the necessary changes, and I worked out no matter how bad I felt. If I couldn’t walk, I lifted weights. I found myself having more energy and my MS symptoms improved.
I used to dread going to see my multiple sclerosis doctor because I felt like all I ever did was whine and complain, but suddenly I found myself excited to share my progress. I found myself looking forward to my appointments with Dr. Wu at the St. Louis VA so he could see how well I was doing.
But just when I thought I was near the peak of that mountain, I had another MS attack. I knew it would happen some day and it took three months for my body to recover.
I was discouraged, but with every choice to take back my control, I found myself once again climbing that mountain. I still haven’t reached the top, but now I never entertain the thought that I won’t get there.
I know I will.
In the meantime, I intend to enjoy the beautiful view as I climb, even with MS.