The Sun keeps Rising and Setting
I had been planning a post about peoples reactions to my diagnosis, though it would seem that this decided it wanted to come out more.
The person standing there looking at me, physically looked like the same person I knew, though there was something behind her eyes. Self-doubt, pain and anxiousness stared back at me. All things I had believed that I had dealt with a long time before, and yet here I was watching them return.
I had always connected grief with a loved one passing away, or breaking up from a relationship. That idea of not ever seeing them again, losing a physical being. That idea was greatly challenged when I was diagnosed, as I was to come to realise that you can grieve so much more than losing others. You can also grieve losing yourself.Everything that I thought I was going to be, the ideas and dreams I had for my future were now clouded with uncertainty. Self-doubt creeping into every crevice of my being, a self-doubt that was too easy to accept as how could I walk forward when all I thought to be true was now in question.
There was denial, oh yes I held onto that 5% chance the health professionals were wrong, even to the point of offering other possible diagnosis and diseases to my neurologist at every visit. Even though the little voice in my head knew it was MS, the denial part of my grieving held onto the ridiculous irrational hope it wasn’t. Then there was the anger, so freaken angry and frustrated! At everything! The little things that come with MS, like the forgetting a name, or putting the milk in the cupboard, to the bigger ones like falling over, dropping things, and being so damn tired all the time! Oh yes angry!
I flipped between the two for a very long time, all while trying to get on with life. The world doesn’t stop and wait for you while you sit down and process your way through the grief. No you either hold on and keep your head above water as well as you can, or you drown in the emotions that are invading your brain.
The grief wasn’t only mine either. Receiving a diagnosis of any chronic illness is not just felt by the patient alone. I liken it to throwing a stone into a pond. I was the splash, directly affected by the Multiple Sclerosis, the closest ripple was my husband and then my children. As the ripples ebb out till they become flat water they hit everyone attached to my life, family, friends, even as far reaching as those I was just meeting. Yes I wasn’t the only one who had received MS, everyone who I cared about and cared about me had also received the diagnosis of MS in their lives. They too needed to grieve the person they knew, and find a place to accept the person that stood before them now. The person who now walked life with an unpredictable, incurable disease, which was changing the person they knew irrevocably. It was with their help, and that of a few counsellors along the way that I did finally reach acceptance. Oh I don’t accept that it is ok for me to have MS! Though I accept that it is a part of my life, and I carry it with me everyday, whether I like it or not, it is a part of my new identity.
Acceptance of the new me has allowed me to reset my expectations of the person I am, start setting myself new goals and aim for bigger and better dreams. It is a forever changing me, and here is the punch line. It took my getting MS to realise, that we are all forever changing! Disabling condition or not, we are in a constant flux of change. With every new experience we have in life we change, and this will continue for the rest of our lives.
Yes there are still days, many more than I admit to most people, where I am thrust back into the sea of grief. With every new flare, or relapse I am right back there. I allow myself those bad days, there is no shame in grief and we all have those days, and then I get up the next day and start again. Everyday bringing a new experience in this adventure that is my life. I am also the first one to put my hand up and yell (or in the age of social media post a status) I’m not ok, so that my support system can step into place.
Now I focus on being the best version of me, the forever changing version of me. Reminding myself in the hard times that I am not alone, there are thousands of others walking this road too.
I can do this! You can do this! More importantly we do this together!
If you are struggling with grief I urge you to seek help, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as dark as it may seem now, it is there.
Lifeline - https://www.lifeline.org.au -13 11 14
Beyond Blue - https://www.beyondblue.org.au - 1300 22 4636