Diagnosed with MS. Now What?

This week Christina McDonald goes deep into the experience of being diagnosed with MS. From being scared and grieving, she’s learned to doing things differently. More than ever before, she’s chasing her dreams. 

There was something in the words “You have MS” that filled me with mixed emotions and changed my life. The different stages of grief I went through after my diagnosis somehow helped me come to terms with MS. 

If you are newly diagnosed, it’s important that you know that these feelings are normal. Yes, they may recur, but things do get better. There have been days where I have felt chronic pain and others where I have sat feeling sorry for myself. And there have also been good days. I’ve learned to accept that my body has new limitations. I am still the same person and am still able to do things. I am just mastering new ways of doing them. My diagnosis is not what defines me; it has opened a new chapter in my life. It has given me a new outlook on life and I know I want to live it to the fullest of my potential.

After my diagnosis, I started to put my health into perspective. I began looking after my physical and mental wellbeing and started to eat healthier. I feel that I am one of the lucky ones - I’m fortunate enough that my body allows me to do gentle exercise. It’s important to remember to listen to your body and what it is telling you. If you are having a bad day where you need to rest, don’t be afraid to use your voice. The people who love and care for you will understand if you have to cancel plans due to fatigue or bad symptoms. 

My diagnosis has given me a thirst for a better life and sparked a drive in me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. I know MS couldn’t stop me from achieving my goals but it has definitely changed my perspective on things, especially chasing my dreams. I learned not to worry about the things that aren’t actually important but rather to appreciate the little things that are. I have struggled since my diagnosis but it has also put things into perspective for me. I decided to return to education to do my Masters in primary education and I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to do it if it wasn’t for diagnosis. 

Being given an MS diagnosis is tough and it can be scary but I have tried to use it to encourage me rather than frighten me. Research and educate yourself on MS using the wealth of material that there is available. Don’t rely on Google to tell you what’s going on! Educating yourself gives you the knowledge to educate your friends and family and to also spread awareness. If you have recently been diagnosed with MS and are worrying about what happens next, remember MS is not a death sentence. You can still do the things you want to do in life, you’ll just be doing things a bit differently.