The day my world fell apart

One of the most difficult days in my life was the day I handed my boss the resignation letter that ended my career. I had been raised to take pride in my work and to work hard to make something of myself. Quitting just didn’t fit that mindset. It went against everything I knew.

I loved my work but as each day passed, I could see the drastic decline in my abilities. I was continually missing deadlines and would forget how to do even the simplest of tasks. What I enjoyed so much had become a struggle. I tried for months to make it work, covering up my mistakes with quick witted replies and longer hours, but deep down I knew it was time to make a change. I knew my decline was pulling those around me down and that they deserved better than I was able to give.

The thought of no longer working ripped me apart inside. I knew my work did not define me, but I could feel life changing so fast that it scared me. Life wasn’t suppose to turn out this way. MS wasn’t suppose to happen.

The worst part for me was when my last day finally came—the day I shut down my computer and turned the light off for the last time in my office. There were no farewells or goodbyes, no cakes or cards, nothing to even suggest my entire life was about to drastically change. That day ended just like every other day.

I remember walking to my car doing all I could to hold back the tears. My thoughts were screaming at me, “Doesn’t anybody care. My life is over. I’m scared and don’t know what I’m going to do,” but no one could hear the screams. No one saw the tears.

That night I cried myself to sleep. Depression hit hard. I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere. My life became filled with PJ’s, TV reruns and tears. The grieving was real and it was slowly taking over my life. The worthlessness I felt was overwhelming.

The emotional roller coaster I landed on took me completely by surprise. After all, I was always the positive one. I was the one that could find the good in anything, but where was the good in a life-long career coming to an end? Where was the good in MS taking away something I loved? I just couldn’t see it.

It took time and a lot of hard work to pull myself out of the despair that swallowed me whole. It wasn’t easy either. I had to keep reminding myself every day that my work did not define me and neither did MS. I would tell myself, “I am who I am, and I’m pretty spectacular and uniquely amazing at that. Not because of what I can or can’t do. Just because I’m me.”

Eventually I stood tall once again, but I have to admit that I still have moments when a gush of tears show up. Even just yesterday as I sat on my couch reflecting on life, tears came.

I don’t think the people looking in at my life truly understand the extent of pain and heartbreak I still go through all because of a chronic illness that is slowly stealing bits and pieces of my life away. That kind of crushing and breaking…I hope others don’t have to go through.

If you are in a storm right now, know that no matter how hopeless things appear to be today, there is a brighter tomorrow. Keep pushing through the tears and the pain because you really do have a great future ahead of you. MS doesn’t have the final say. Plans may have to change and you may have to shift how you do things, but you are in charge of your life and you can accomplish anything you set your heart and mind to.

Cry if you need to, even scream if that helps you release the pain, but give your heart time to heal. I know it’s scary…the unknown. I know it’s terrifying to take a step forward when you can’t even see the road in front of you, but regardless of how you feel I can tell you with confidence that you aren’t a failure, stupid or broken. You are a somebody…and being a somebody is the best thing anybody could ever be.

10 replies
  1. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    Yes thanks for sharing. In my case bad MS relapse took job. Got disability but still Depressing and have those tearful times. My hubby also retire early helos me physical and mental. Otherwise not sure could be where am….

  2. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thank you Penelope for sharing your heart. I was diagnose one week after seeing a doctor and a numerologist and on a Wednesday I lost my mobility and couldn’t work any more. I paid them a visit to pass on some information about what MS is about, and I think at that time they had more information than me. But now I have more than them. It was hard but I had help from the MS Society to get past this. I still miss the time I could call anyone and they would know me. Now I know a few less people but they are good to me. You have also helped me deal with this mess in ways you couldn’t imagine and for that I thank you

  3. LeeAnn
    LeeAnn says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, your posts have been very uplifting to me. I am newly diagnosed (6 months) and I am in a high stress job with a lot of computer time. I have issues with my eyes and cognitive issues that seem to be getting worse daily. I tried for disability thru work but was declined. Now I have to determine how much of my body I am willing to give to my employer. Very scared and confused on what to do next.

    • Sharon
      Sharon says:

      They cannot decline you if you have a letter from your doctor saying you can no longer work because of your multiple sclerosis. In my case as a high school vocational counselor it was my neurologist who said enough is enough. It is hard to be home 24/7 but also a relief to realize on bad days you don’t have to force yourself to be somewhere.Hard too socially but you quickly find out who your real friends are. Hope it works out for you.

  4. Faith Turner
    Faith Turner says:

    The story of deciding to end a career was thoughtful and familiar. I would add that the relief that flooded over me, when I realized I did not have to “fake” it anymore at work, was surprising and comforting.

  5. KT
    KT says:

    I hadn’t been diagnosed yet when I left. I just quickly declined in being able to be on my feet all day. The pain was horrendous. I got diagnosed and ever since have fought to try to get back to working. It feels like a dream when a lost loved one appears and then begins walking away as I try to reach out to hang on to them so I can see them even one second longer. Then I wake up and remember they are gone and never coming back. I miss my old self today. I long to be that person again. I know I am supposed to look forward all the time, but some days I can’t be that person and today is one of those days. Try again tomorrow. Thank you for your story, hit the nail right on the head.

  6. Ken
    Ken says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts every day! I am moving on as well from work – not by my choice, but by a “Reduction in Force”. I have known that my memory and cognitive skills have been going south for a while, but I tried to hide it the same way – working longer hours, etc. Again – thank you for sharing your story, as there are others that do feel the exact same way, and are helped by your words…..

  7. Trish Butcher
    Trish Butcher says:

    Your story is mine!! Same, no goodbyes, just leaving for the last time. Such a terribly low moment in my life. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Rebecca Adams
    Rebecca Adams says:

    Thank you for your positive attitude. Newly diagnosed and trying so hard to find something positive in this disease.

  9. Vicky
    Vicky says:

    I was lucky that i lost my career long before MS due to the economy. I think God had a hand in that cuz i moved to Texas for work and met my fiance. He has been my rock for this roller coaster called MS. I was in school working part time trying to find a new career when i got my dx.
    So i had less to mourn


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