When I was first diagnosed with MS, a lot of people tried to tell me how much cleaning up my act would help, but I just wanted to ignore the world and pretend that the doctors had got it wrong. It’s taken me more than two years to realise that they were right.
Now, I haven’t turned into a fitness bore – something I don’t think my friends and family would agree with – but looking after my body has made a huge difference. Around four months ago, I went to visit my best friend and I was stunned by her transformation. The most obvious change was the four stone weight loss, but it was clear her positive mindset had made the biggest difference.
On the train home, I had a word with myself and told me to have a good luck at my life and ask myself if I was happy? The answer was no. I was miserable, I’d gained a huge amount of weight –some of which medication was to blame for and the rest was me eating my feelings. All I could think about up until that point was how crap things were and how crap they were going to be tomorrow.
I began to make small changes and saw a difference pretty quickly. Instead of getting the bus, I’d walk 25 minutes to get the tram work. Rather than reaching for a Yorkie when I was peckish, I took advantage of the free fruit at work. And, I finally brushed the dust of my gym kit and actually went for a workout.
Just recently, I discovered this app called Headspace, which helps you find ten minutes a day for just yourself and whatever you’re feeling. It’s made a huge difference, as it helps me to balance all that’s whizzing around in my brain and understand that they’re just thoughts. Nothing more.
So, I’m 30 pounds lighter – losing weight physically and mentally – and for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling great. MS hasn’t really entered my mind in months, expect the infusion I have, but even that has become more of social event as I’m finally in sync with my friend’s rotation, so we just chat and plan our next dinner date.
However, the stress has been building lately. I’ve picked up a second job to help me save some cash, I’ve been house-hunting with my boyfriend (who, by the way, is truly amazing) and I have been having some problems in my job. It all got a bit too much on Friday and I went to the bathroom and sobbed – something I have never done before.
It wasn’t long until the pain was back in my thighs and calves, feeling like a fire was burning through my nerves. On Saturday, I couldn’t walk properly and my boyfriend ended up having to flag a cab for a five-minute walk, which was gutting. I felt utterly useless as a human being.
I was back to square one and started feeling really sorry for myself. How could this be happening again, after all the progress I’d made?
Well, it wasn’t, because I wasn’t going to let it. I realised that I can change my job, I won’t have to work so much forever and house-hunting isn’t something to get stressed about. I woke up today still in pain, but with the resolve that there was no way I was letting myself down by falling back into a dark place I’d worked so damn hard to climb out of.
I got up, got dressed and dragged myself to the gym. It wasn’t easy and I really wanted to collapse halfway through a class. I didn’t. I finished, red-faced and sweaty, but feeling amazing.
Four months ago, I made a promise to myself to keep going no matter what.
Martin Luther King said: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” That’s just what I intend to do.