Hi, my name is Penelope and I have Multiple Sclerosis. (I feel like everyone in unison should say “Hello Penelope” like in those support groups.)
I am a real voice of a person living with a chronic illness. I can be a bit rough around the edges, creative, funny, and slightly opinionated. Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that since I am so open about the difficulties and struggles I face, that I’m a super tough, amazingly strong person. Somehow they assume that the problems they are facing, I never face. That nothing gets through this armor I wear.
But it does.
I get tired and at times can become overwhelmed with all the challenges that MS causes in my life. There are moments when the thoughts swirling around in my head are all screaming at me in unison to quit. There are times when it takes everything I’ve got just to drag myself out of bed, open the curtains and welcome a new day.
I have moments of doubt that I really matter especially when my body is weak and I am struggling with the simplest of tasks. Things like holding a cup of coffee, washing my hair or tying my shoes.
When it takes every ounce of strength I can muster up just to take another step, it’s at those times that I find myself clinging on to hope. For me, hope is what gives me the strength I need to keep going when all I have left are tears.
Hope that my voice about life with MS will be enough to make someone stop for a moment and realize that what they are going through is real and not just all in their head.
Hope that the things I write will be a right-on-time read for someone needing a little bit of encouragement, support and a gentle hug.
Hope that lives will be changed through the things I say and the laughs I give.
Hope that people will begin speaking more freely about what life is like for someone living with MS.
Hope that those without MS will gain a deeper understanding about the challenges we face.
Hope that tomorrow with be better than today.
I’m here to say that MS is real and so is the struggle we live through. It can break even the strongest of the strong. Sure, we get pretty good at slapping on a smile to cover up the emotional and physical pain, but that doesn’t change the fact that MS hurts. It really hurts.
The important thing is to not let the pain or the daily troubles you are experiencing become so big that MS is all you are able to see. Pause and look around you. There is a world to be explored and people to meet. There is a life to be lived…and you are the one to live it. Strap on your armor, hold your head high, take a deep breath and step out.
I may not be as strong as you think I am, but I know I’m not alone. There’s an entire army of us brave and courageous MSers who never quit as we face the impossible each day. Together we are standing strong. Together we are doing it one hope at a time!