broken heart

Broken by multiple sclerosis but still standing

I know how difficult things can get. It’s not easy making it through the day when my body is fighting against me. I didn’t ask to be the strong one. At times when people tell me to stay strong, I actually feel so weak that I have no idea how those words are supposed to be comforting. To me, they feel more like a punch in the gut than the gentle hug they were meant to be.

Stay strong? I don’t like to admit that there are times when being strong is simply not possible. Oh, I try. Boy, do I try. But when I wake up in pain, exhausted, weary, and unable to feel parts of my body because the numbness keeps creeping up my legs, arms and even my face…the struggle crumbles me. Stay strong? I feel more like a crumpled piece of paper than a rod of steel.

How am I supposed to stay strong when I am broken? People who say they never break are either lying to you or to themselves. I have been broken many times and feel more like a pieced together puzzle that’s been glued together over and over again than a strong oak simply bending in the wind.

It’s a great thing to think about, being a tree swaying in the wind, but anyone that has ever lived through a tsunami, hurricane or tornado knows that even the strongest of oak trees break. It may still be standing when the storm subsides, but scars are left behind as a reminder of what once was as branches and sometimes even the trunk itself breaks.

The truth is, multiple sclerosis changes you. Multiple sclerosis actually means multiple scars. It leaves scars both in your brain and spine, and although the physician that named it didn’t mean it this way, but MS also leaves scars in your heart. You change.

The storm you are enduring…people can’t see it. Some try to understand, but without living in your body and experiencing your journey by walking in your shoes, they just can’t understand the mental and emotional pains you face each day along with the slew of symptoms you have to endure. They don’t know how often you cover your tears with a smile and piece together your heart with bubble gum and shoestrings.

Are you stronger because of MS? Absolutely you are. You are stronger even in the breaking. You have endured much and just like how a tree grows new limbs once a storm has torn it apart, you are growing and changing every day. You may be at a place where you feel like the storm is overtaking you, but the winds will calm down and the sun will come out. It may not seem like it, but it will happen.

Hold on with everything you’ve got, then when you find your strength again…stand proud of what you’ve come through and all that you’ve overcome. You may look tattered and worn, but you are still standing even if you can’t physically stand…you are standing tall on the inside. That speaks volumes about who you are. That’s how warriors are made and whether you feel like it or not, you are a warrior. A mighty MS Warrior.

Not many people can make it through a storm, break, then keep standing…but you are doing it. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong, smile in your brokenness realizing that your scars speak of your strength and tell a story that only a warrior knows and only a warrior can tell.

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero


8 replies
  1. Claire
    Claire says:

    Oh Penelope…”You are stronger even in the breaking”. Your words pour such warmth on me when I feel each day I break a little more. Thank you. May we warriors all feel a little stronger through your words.

  2. Moneque Lambert
    Moneque Lambert says:


    You once again, you have hit the nail on the head. Stay strong… most days I feel like that is a cruel joke. I’m doing all that I can!!! I want to be strong, I want to stay strong, but as you said when my body is fighting against me, and everything feels like it’s broken it’s hard to see that as being strong. But I haven’t given up!! And that’s what makes me strong. That I just keep on trucking no matter the tattered torn mess I am. I keep fighting. But it is hard. But I will keep on going. I will stay strong. Thank you for all your thoughtful and wonderful emails.

  3. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks again Penelope you are a strong person to be able to do this. We all have to do what we can and when we can and that can be hard but we do it any way. You give us the strength to do this by saying these comments every time.

  4. Carole K.
    Carole K. says:


    I say “Stay Strong” often. I too, have ‘ms’, and I reading your article, I started to think that it offends others, and was wondering, where is she going with this. Then, you continued on with explaining by saying that being strong does not only apply to outward but inward as well. And that is exactly why I say it. Others might just be concerned about what they see, but it’s how one approaches ‘ms’ is what it’s all about.

    Thank you for this reminder,


  5. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    Wow! Your article really touched my soul. I’ve had MS for 30 years, you’ve managed to identify so many important truths. Thank you for writing it, exposing yourself for it won’t only help you in writing but people living w/MS for too long…

  6. Jan
    Jan says:

    Thank you again, Penelope, for another wonderful post on how we actually feel. My GI Dr commented that I am “strong” dealing with Crohn’s disease and MS. Am I really strong? I guess I must be, though I don’t feel it on most days when overwhelming fatigue & noodle legs & arms keep me in bed. But I’ll keep on going being a strong MS warrior, after all, we’re all in this battle together!! Much ❤️ to all. Jan 🥰


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