MS Does Not Signify the End

My stomach is churning. My mind racing. I’m in shock. I’m confused. 

A doctor has just announced that I have multiple sclerosis. A disease that I know nothing about. Yet apparently it will be part of my life forever – there is no cure. 

My mind is filled with questions. Will the images in the brochures in front of me become a part of my future? A walking stick? A wheelchair? How often will I have these “relapses?” How will they affect me? How long will they last? Will I progress?

Being diagnosed with MS can be an extremely clinical and disempowering experience. As I lay in a hospital bed, the doctor spoke, and I remained quiet. Lost for words as I tried to process this unexpected news. Overwhelmed by information and a seemingly hopeless prognosis.

I kept thinking why now? I was only 22 years old, and my life was just beginning. Having graduated from college, I was embarking on a new career. Every day I was inspired by plans and dreams for my future – overseas holidays, further studies, professional success, a busy social life, buying my own home and so much more.

On being diagnosed with MS, I recast these dreams as impossible as each assumed good health. Based on the doctor’s words, this was no longer a given. My future was now unknown. And this realisation triggered debilitating feelings of despondency and fear.

I wish I could have been there to support my younger self when diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. To share the insights I’ve now gained to ease the anxiety and reintroduce hope into my life.

When I tried to process my diagnosis over the following days and weeks, I would have said…
  • Stay in the moment. Fight the urge to race ahead, embodying every image and every negative story associated with MS. It’s a waste of energy, as many of these scenarios may never be your experience. And if a “catastrophe” does occur, be confident that you will be able to navigate through these dark periods. In fact, you will discover strengths that you’ve been oblivious to.
  • Avoid rash decisions. Seek comfort in knowing that the intensity of emotions you experience during diagnosis will lessen. But be kind to yourself. Give yourself time and space to absorb and make sense of your new reality. Don’t make life changing decisions now. Wait for the storm to pass.
  • Keep dreaming. You can still make plans and have dreams for the future. I encourage it, as dreams will continue to create the momentum needed to move beyond the darkness and frustration of MS. And if you are flexible and open with the plans you make, life will still be punctuated by incredible experiences.
Since being diagnosed with MS, I have travelled the world by myself, lived in Scotland for a year, volunteered with children with special needs in Romania, retrained as a social worker, moved to the beach, written a book and literally had my life partner (my plumber… long story!) walk into my life forever.

Although I don’t celebrate having MS, I do celebrate these amazing experiences. Dealing with a diagnosis of MS is undeniably tough. But keep going as MS does not signify the end. Instead, MS will continue to demand your evolution – physically, emotionally and spiritually. And unimagined experiences will continue to be part of your future.

Teisha Rose

Teisha was diagnosed with MS in 1997 and lives in Australia. She is the author of "Life Interrupted: My journey from hurdle to hope" and writes to demonstrate that moving beyond life’s interruptions is possible. Discover more about Teisha’s journey with MS by visiting Lives Interrupted.