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.
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.
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.
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.