Career vs. MS

I had huge plans for when I left university. I was going to start my new career as an illustrator! I had big dreams of everyone owning something with one of my designs on it. I managed to find an agent to represent me at major trade shows, and I even had a book deal while I was still at university! I was so excited. All I needed to do was to finish university.
 
But life never quite goes as you expect it to go, does it?
 
The morning of my last day at university I didn’t quite feel “right.” I’d been working to exhaustion most days, so the fact that the left side of my body and my right hand had gone numb and wobbly sort of made sense to me. It was just stress, right?
 
Wrong.
 
I begrudgingly dragged myself to my GP’s office for an appointment. Nothing could be wrong though, I was 22! I was invincible! I was perfectly healthy and never, ever got sick.
 
After coming out of hospital a week later with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, I thought my life was literally, truly over.
 
My illustration business I’d painstakingly built up had been taken away overnight as I now had no strength in my left or right hand to even hold a pencil.
 
My university degree that I’d poured everything into for the last 3 years was suddenly invalid.
 
Everything I knew was gone.
My life had gone.
I was gone. 
 
“What do I do now?” I thought.
 
I started working as a graphic designer in fashion just after I left university. I didn’t tell them about my diagnosis and the fact I couldn’t actually feel my hands. I only had to move a stylus on a tablet, so I didn’t really need to feel my hand to point and click. Bonus.
 
But the hours became ridiculous, I never knew where I stood with this company, and the commute became so taxing on my body. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left.
 
I decided to start my own business like I did at university. At this point, I still couldn’t illustrate because I couldn’t draw. What could I do?
 
I became a graphic designer in the wedding industry selling stationery. At first, I loved it. But then came the stress—and boy was it stressful. I decided invitations were not for me.
 
I was still engaged myself at the time, so it was all romantic and exciting. I wanted to help other brides to be, so I created a support network and sold bridesmaids dresses. My husband and I started making around $20,000 dollars per month. We then realized our returns policy was too slack, and there was a reason other companies weren’t doing 90-day returns, so we ended up swamped in returns and losing money. A LOT of money.
 
That business ended too.
But my entrepreneurial spirit was still on fire!
 
I realized after meeting more people with MS that their diagnosis stories were similar to mine. They were also told that they shouldn’t exercise and shouldn’t do this and that. I started The DISabled to ENabled podcast to share inspirational stories from other MSers who had taken their diagnosis and done something amazing with it.
 
I never thought I would say this, but I am so grateful to have MS. It has changed my career to something totally unexpected and I’m really excited I now have a business that is pushing me towards learning new skills and to overcome my own barriers. This blog has also helped get me back into illustrating again, and now I can include one with every blog that I do.  
 
How did your career change when you were diagnosed?
Tags Employment & Education      2 Appreciate this
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Jessie

Jessie Ace

Jessie Ace is the founder of jessieace.com, a website that provides real-world help and advice for people living with chronic health conditions after her own experiences of being diagnosed with MS at 22 years old. She’s also the host of the DISabled to ENabled podcast, author of the ENabled Warrior Symptom Tracker book, founder of the ENabled Warriors community and public speaker. 
 

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