I am terribly afraid of cockroaches. I don’t know why, I just am…especially the flying kind. Those freak me out. Just writing about them gives me the heebie-jeekies. I remember one time when one landed on my shoulder. I danced around the room like a breakdancing ninja trying to shake it off. I can still feel its legs crawling across my back. Yikes! To this day, if a cockroach shows up in my house you will hear me scream…all the way over in Australia.
Fear is a powerful thing. It has this way of paralyzing someone no matter how strong they think they are. Those of us living with multiple sclerosis are faced with some pretty big fears too. I have personally dealt with my own set of fears because of MS: the fear of not being able to take care of myself, of being rejected by the non-disabled world, of having to depend on others for even the smallest of things, of not being taken seriously when talking about my hidden symptoms, of being made fun of for using a cane, walker or wheelchair.
With all those fears swirling around in my head, I had a choice to make. Was I going to let fear control me, bringing great amounts of suffering to my life, or was I going to admit they exist and work through them? Could I stand up to the very things I feared? Was I even strong enough to face them?
I decided that I wanted to work through them. It wasn’t easy and new fears kept trying to sneak their way in, but I was determined to keep my focus on living for today, not fearing tomorrow. You do realize that even the most courageous warrior’s knees will knock and voice will shake when staring down their fears, right? Scared may be how you feel, but brave is what you’re doing.
For so many people, the fears of MS can be a lifelong struggle. It takes courage to confront those fears head-on, but if you want to find your place in this world you have to face them. You have to learn to accept yourself, your disability, and your limits, then push past everything you find there to discover your new abilities and greater passions. MS is real but so is your future and in order to reach it you have to let go of the fears that hold you back.
I won’t lie, this journey we are on is not easy, but don’t let fear knock you down along the way. Make sure the choices you make today are not being made out of fear. You will discover that you have strength far beyond what you ever imagined possible had you never looked MS eyeball to eyeball and said, “I can do this. I refuse to give up trying.”
Be determined and stand strong. You are braver than you think, stronger than you feel and more courageous than you ever imagined possible. You really can do this!