{MS} Whip-cracking Away! 

Did you ever get bad news? Do you remember the few moments when you saw the face of the person who was about to tell you something you didn’t want to hear? Did they stumble/mumble or were they clear as a bell as they rang your reminder of your own mortality? No? Great. Please don’t read on. 

  But if you have had that concrete stomach feeling, if your self-esteem has taken a blow like it’s like nothing ever before you might understand what I’m going to talk about. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is a blow to our core, to our identity. What we think about ourselves, our place in the world/relationships/work, who we are, the person we want to be, how we ‘feel’ & think are transformed. It is nothing short of a metaphorical tsunami that washes through our world. There is no more of familiar landscape. It is gone.

Multiple sclerosis comes with a whip that can *crack* wherever, whenever. A sudden dart of burning pain, loss of balance, fatigue or lost for words. One of the ways I’ve dealt with these interruptions is by focusing on my own reality and using other ways to avoid ‘catastrophic thinking‘ (turning off those bells!). As humans, uncertainty is something we deal with every day, not only as someone with MS. However, it is the ‘knowing our own vulnerability’ that magnifies our life experiences, good and bad. I’ve had the worst of days/months but have used all sorts of means (NLP, therapy, socialising, public speaking etc) to deconstruct the experiences so I get through in a mind/body healthy. Tap into your own wealth of experiences and use what you know so you can manage your condition. Self-management is the key to a great life.

I’m an avid reader and have found the experiences of others, business/mind leaders and social innovators really useful- there are always tools for me to pick out and use in my day-to-day. 

  • The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer by Art Berg
  • Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn (mindfulness)
  • Richard Branson’s autobiographies 
  • Philosophy
  • Idealistic & deep (Ursula Le Guin; Kahlil Gibran; The Book of Psalms; travel books)

Do you like black & white, the sense of control & certainty? ResiStance is futile! MS is as grey as anything and learning to live in the mystery while (also living fiercely) may be a way to ease the stomach-churning pang of uncertainty. Compassion- rage against the what ifs/whys/hows but also know it will be exhausting and destructive if not balanced with enjoying your one and only life. Self-compassion can be restorative and sustaining- check out Dr. Kirstin Neff http://self-compassion.org/

As the tsunami waters subside on the diagnosis, it’s okay to say no to people who try to tell you what they think is best for you (especially me!) and to disagree. What I mention I have used/am using in my own life and I hope that some of what I share will be of use to you if not this week, some day in the future as you find the ways that work best for you.

Join me on Twitter to chat and talk through the messy things @emmadragon

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