One of the most difficult days in my life was the day I turned in 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 all that I knew. Multiple sclerosis had been whittling away at everything I was able to do making a productive day difficult.
Each day that 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 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.
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.