I’ve always heard that balance in life is essential. I have a feeling the person who originally penned that thought didn’t have multiple sclerosis. I can no more balance my body on a flat surface than balance my life on a daily basis. I can’t even balance my check book due to the financial strain of living with a chronic illness. A balanced life with MS sounds more like an oxymoron than a reality.
How do you balance a life that is constantly changing and where the unexpected is more expected than the chance of rain in today’s weather forecast? Each day with MS is a walk into the unknown filled with countless obstacles and booby traps. How do you balance that?
I gave up trying to plan my day in advance. Before MS, I was an organized, planned individual with my day planner in hand everywhere I went and a memory like an elephant. I remembered birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and special occasions. I could remember anything I read, heard or saw. I even earned the nickname “Human Google” and was the go-to person when someone had a question.
Now, I have a hard time remembering what day it is, what I did yesterday and what happened on the last episode of “Game of Thrones.” I burn pizza in the oven, lose my way driving to the grocery store and forget to wash my hair while I’m in the shower. I have even been known to forget to wash the lathered up shampoo from my head before I end my shower altogether. You have no idea how many times I have gotten out of the shower, dried myself off, then realized I need to rinse the shampoo out my hair. Even my no-fail plans to remember things don’t help me remember. I lose post-it notes, forget to set alarms and can’t read my own writing.
Because of MS, I have learned that balance has nothing to do with ensuring equal time with work, fun, and family. It’s not about pleasing others or how much I can get done in a day. It’s about going with the flow and doing those things that are important to my wellness. Sometimes that means I spend the day focused on my own needs instead of work, family or fun. Sometimes that means I can mix it all up. But the important thing is to never give up when the unexpected happens.
And never forget, even the greatest gymnast in the world falls off the balance beam from time to time. Don’t stress out when your emotions get the best of you or get overwhelmed with everything that’s happening in your life. When the unexpected happens, pause, take a deep breath, then get back up and keep trying. Don’t hold onto the stress that comes with all the crazy unexpected moments. Instead, find a few smiles somewhere in the chaos to help you through what’s going on and keep going. You got this!