Monday, June 24, 2024

Seeking Hope

Finding my new normal was my initial goal when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I didn’t know what I’d need to know to live well with MS, but I held faith that I would learn what I could when I was ready. My hope was to live as well as possible with MS. Both faith and hope are deeply reliant on me to do what I can.  

The fact is I’ve had periods of holding it together, phases hoping to come out of a lot of MS symptoms, and moments where I feel like I’m rocking this life and doing fabulously. 

Early in my diagnosis, I sought out every resource I could find. I read all the books related to MS in the local library, I joined the local MS Self-Help group, and I followed my neurologist’s advice. I monitored my symptoms and tried to make sense of a confusing and inconsistent illness. I searched the internet to learn all I could about MS and what helps. My health was a project to solve, and I treated it like a second full-time job. The urgency to figure out what could help was stressful, but I think it was a necessary phase of adjusting to life with a chronic illness. All of these efforts helped me become more hopeful.

Scientific studies conclude those of us living with chronic illness have a better quality of life when we have hope. When we’re optimistic, we believe our efforts can make a difference. Having hope helps combat stress and anxiety. 

When lacking hope or feeling pessimistic, we’re less likely to think our efforts matter. Either way, what we believe matters for our mental and physical health when dealing with adversity.  

We can’t fully control or count on a constant level of hope. Accepting our highs and lows as normal can help ease some of the stress of living with MS. Monitoring our mood and stress level can help us notice when we’re feeling less hopeful. What we need in those times differs for each of us, and they vary depending on what’s challenging us at that moment. 

What do I need, and what might help? 

Sometimes I need to research the symptoms that are challenging me, and others I need to talk to someone who will listen. Some moments benefit from taking a breath, stretching, and looking inward. Other moments are best served by looking outward and thinking about something other than myself. Each moment’s feeling is unique, and each needs its own plan of action. My not-so-new normal is only consistent for seeking hope and accepting the path is always changing.  

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