Your Path is Yours

In the dark days following my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, I found light with the help of family, friends and a newfound strength. My MS diagnosis even spurred me to follow my dreams—I finally finished my novel and signed with my literary agent last December.
Overall, my path post-diagnosis has been a positive one.
When you think about it, that’s the kind of uplifting path you’re expected to follow, right? You rise up. You get stronger. You make healthy choices and keep a positive attitude through all of the challenges you face.
You are an inspiration.
But I’ve learned that it’s not always that simple.
Three and a half years in, I’ve learned that the path of post-diagnosis is not a linear one. No two cases of MS are exactly the same, but all of us face an unpredictable illness. And our paths while we navigate that illness can also be unpredictable.
And the truth is, my path has not always been positive and smooth. I’ve dealt with fatigue, blurry eyes, numb hands and other symptoms that are part of the frustrating and frightening “is it MS or something else?” game.
I don’t always have a positive attitude when that happens. Nor do I always make healthy choices. Sometimes I stay up too late, or I skip my workout. Some days I feel like I’m locked in a constant struggle between living each day to the fullest and taking care of my health long-term.
Some days are hard. Sometimes I worry about the future.
Sometimes, I am not an inspiration.
But I’ve learned that’s okay.
Your path is yours, and you aren’t expected to have only strength and positivity every day. There will be stormy days. You will feel weak. But that doesn’t mean your strength is gone—that strength you found after your diagnosis is always there, even on the bad days. It keeps picking you up every time you fall.
Your family and friends keep picking you up, too. They don’t expect you to always be strong—they expect you to be human. They will be there when times get tough, and during times of triumph.
Some days you will fail. But you will try again.
You will not always be an inspiration, but sometimes you will be. Sometimes you’ll inspire yourself.
Your path is yours, and you will keep going. No matter what, you will never, ever give up. 

Read the first part of Elissa's journey with MS here.
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Elissa Dickey

Elissa Dickey lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota with her husband and children. A former journalist, she is now an author who also works in communications at a university. Her debut novel, The Speed of Light, will be published in spring 2021 by Lake Union Publishing.