One of the hardest things for me dealing with MS, both when I was first diagnosed between Gr. 10 – Gr. 11 and now in university is how it makes me feel and impacts me socially. When I first started experiencing symptoms and missing school I felt like I’d basically lost myself. I went very suddenly from being a typical high school kid to having to think and worry about all the uncertainty and “what ifs” of a lifelong illness. I’d always had a lot of different friends but the kind and quality of friends I had really became apparent in this period. I mean it’s natural for friends to come and go throughout time but some people I thought I’d know forever faded away into the distance, partially due to their inability to understand and support me in what I was going through. No hard feeling towards them though, it’s taken me a long time to be able to say that– but I found it hard and still find it hard to understand and support myself through this illness at times. To put this social shifting when I was first diagnosed into a positive light though, MS acted as a sieve as I’m sure other serious life events do, in sifting through the people in my life and making sure the ones who remained were precious gems. Finding out who actually cared, and felt, and loved enough, to walk with me down the new and unusual road I was about to partake on has kept me strong over the years. But having experienced the uprooting of my world as it was and losing people I trusted has left me currently uneasy about how MS plays a role in making new friendships.
When do you tell someone you have MS? Is that a relevant detail of who you are? My take on this has been to try to incorporate MS into my friendships casually yet still try to keep MS separate from my view of “who I am”. I like to look at it as something that has impacted me and definitely shaped me as person, but is just a part of me…it doesn’t define me. I used to feel a lot of regret and resentment about this whole thing. I regretted not pushing myself to function despite my illness, I resented the memories and opportunities I’d missed because of it. But I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized that regretting and wishing you could change things or go back only stagnates the present, the now where you could be living it up in the moment. So anyone out there who can relate to this social uneasiness, let’s get out there, let’s adventure into new situations, and most importantly, let’s not let MS hold us back from living the kind of life or being the kind of person we want to be. “The world ‘s a bubble, and the life of man less than a span.” -Sr. Francis Bacon
Until next time!