Learning from adversity

Learning from my chronic illnesses has been a goal of mine. Ever since I was diagnosed decades ago. I am firm in the belief that the adversity that arrives at your door is for a reason. How you choose to react to this, apparently, negative event in your life is something that you must actively decide. Consciously. Deliberately.

On first looking at an illness like Multiple Sclerosis you have be daunted by the almost endless possibilities of symptoms. They range from changed physical sensations like tingling, pins and needles, and even pain, to the loss of mobility or sight. Cognition problems are a reality, as is fatigue, and the black dog of depression is constantly looking down on you, ready to devour any glimpse of positive emotion. This is what faced me 25 years ago.

Two Options

There was no medication available at that time for treating this pervasive disease, So I had 2 choices, either to bow down and be subjugated, allowing myself to be robbed of life, or to stand up and face it head on, not allowing my life to be dominated by this cruel tyrant. It was not easy, and at times I really did feel like giving up. Somehow losing my mobility was something that I could find a way of coping with, but the fatigue sapped me of my willpower. In all this turmoil I did find a way to co-exist with my MS, and it no longer was a major factor in my life.

Did I learn something at the stage? Undoubtedly I did. MS taught me to focus on each moment. To somehow find the joy, the excitement. Gratitude for all the positive and good things that I have. The key was to look away from the negative. Another key learning was that what happened in the past is no longer something to worry about. No matter what I do, I cannot change it, and so all that the past can give me is an education. The future is unknown. You do not know what will happen tomorrow, let alone next year, so you can plan, but don’t live for the future. It could be completely different to that picture you have in your head.


Being 100% in the present is the best way to live. It isn’t always easy, and you have to learn how to do it, but it is worth the effort. So when I was in that car accident nearly 4 years ago, and this headache started, I had some tools in the bag that have helped me to live with this constant pain.

The consequence of this accident has taken away from me the ability to work the way I did before the accident. I tried, but anytime I had to concentrate for any period of time, my headache became intolerable. I did find a part-time role that I could do, but one of the treatments that I had, has caused me mobility problems. Again, another change in my life, unexpected, unplanned.

Another lesson

What has this taught me? Really it has re-enforced the need to focus on now. This minute. Plus, it has also caused me to re-examine what are the important things in life. As my ability to earn an income has been compromised I am now focusing on non-material things to give me happiness in life. To say I am amazed is an understatement. Despite my constant pain, loss of mobility and sensation, I have found a truly happy place in my life.

The future

My financial future is uncertain, as is the course of my illnesses. It would be very easy for all my waking thoughts to be consumed by this, but every day I actively work on keeping myself facing the positive. I cannot allow an unknown future to control my life.

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8 thoughts on “What am I learning from MS and chronic pain?

    1. I think we all need to feel a purpose, and to be part of a community. It helps to give us strength on the dark days.

    1. Hi Marya,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Starting can be difficult, but one very handy tip is that try and make a conscious effort to be grateful for even the small things. It can seem silly when you start, but be thankful that the light works, or that the car starts, or any of the small things that you usually take for granted each day. Make a point of noticing them. Today I saw some hydrangeas starting to have green buds. It made me smile, as it is a sign that Spring is close. When you notice these things actively note them. Having a chronic illness can drag you down, so you must drag yourself out of it. I would love to hear how you get on. ?

  1. I was diagnosed in November of 2017 after falling down the stairs four times in two weeks. My husband informed me that I kept going towards the right when I walked and his sister verified it at church one Sunday. I went to the doctor who referred me for a MRI and was diagnosed with Demyelinating disease so I was referred to a neurologist and the fun began. More MRIs, tests, blood tests, vision tests and tests with electricity. Finally the words I never wanted to hear. Oh well, it is my life now. I wish the tingling feeling would stop, it interferes with my sleep and I am tired of falling. As I said before, it is my life, what can I do? I just wish I could find a job.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story of diagnosis Kimberly. Finding work that fits with your illness is the key. You will need to look at what you can do, and find a job that suits these skills. I am only able to work in a very limited way, and even that is changing. I understand your challenge.

      I wish you the very best in your search for work.


  2. This is a great post. I completely agree. I don’t like my illnesses, but every day I search for the lessons they teach me. They’re a part of me, and I’m determined to make the most of them.

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