The Diagnosis

It’s amazing how much we try to control in life so we can achieve our dreams, like a career, music, art, or building up our family’s strengths. We are surrounded by distractions, but there is pure satisfaction from something going as planned, isn’t there? Seeing results for your hard work.

By nature, I’m type A and a really hard worker but also a deep thinker/dreamer. It’s important to me that people can count on me. Knowing that I can accomplish or help someone else, a shared goal or a personal dream is what makes my heart flutter.

So all of these things are also sometimes a negative, because life is rarely on track. I’m okay with the unexpected change of plan. Working in public relations, crises and communications requires you to be able to handle the chaos. But I wasn’t ready for what life had in store for me.

I had to learn the hard way that this wasn’t really my plan all along.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). This rocked my world. I grieved for my children and possibly not having the mother they so deserved. The tears continued to fall when I realized I might not be the woman I dreamed. My throat would close at the utter, complete, loss of control in my life. I basically mourned my life as I knew it. But, I’d be dammed if I let anyone feel sorry for me (a curse of the independent people out there).

My husband said I only had two days to cry. Those words were harsh, but I think he was equally confused and worried this would overtake me. Maybe in some way he feared that the person he loved so much would be lost forever. I was deeply scared too; the kind that makes your body shake. This was unchartered territory.

But I had to find a way forward, and to be honest, it took me a few years. I didn’t like the idea of being someone scared of the future. I had made some diet and supplement changes and after some time, reluctantly got on medication. I was extremely lucky, I only had some numbness and otherwise have not had any physical issues. It was the emotional ones that were really pushing on my heart, the future, and who I would be tomorrow. I had find a way to uncover my own peace and strength with this chronic, unpredictable diagnosis. I tried ignoring it, but that’s the funny thing about that strategy…it creeps around in all the places that matter.

Eventually I spoke with a therapist and started letting more friends and family know. I went to a few MS meetings and they scared the hell out of me and I vowed to never go back. [I have gone to a “People with MS for 40ish and Under Happy Hour” meeting a few times that were good…these things do actually exist.]

There’s still work to do. I still have to tell my kids about MS. I thought I might last summer but those that know my older daughter and her obsession with death thought she might think I was going to die. But as of today, I have been in remission for four years (!!) and am living for today, tomorrow and every day after. Remission is when you have no symptoms of the disease (via annual MRI scans) and I’ll take it…day by day, year by year as it comes.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how I can help others, maybe find peace with this total change in life. I’ve done such a disservice by trying to solve this myself instead of looking to others. Maybe I can save someone else the heartache. Let them know there is another side and that it is pretty amazing, just a slightly different story.

Here’s to finding peace with life’s limitations, strength in and gratitude for what you do have, and living every moment as though it matters.

Ps, I am completely open to talking about MS if you want to ask me casually or have a friend who needs help. Anytime.

xo

 

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“I hat mi self”

This is my seven-year-old daughter. Her version of I Hate Myself.

Do you hear that sound? The banging and vibration? That was my heart. My throat closed up in sadness because my very young, sweet girl was feeling something so deep.

We all know that it’s tough to be a girl and grow up with social pressures, fit in and learn confidence. Add social media here soon. The sad truth is, we exchange these feelings of inadequacies for other things as women…that we’re not doing enough, could be doing more, hence the be in 20 places at once attempt (nearly daily). It’s exhausting. We need to stop being our own worst critic and build each other up.

And we need to stop it where it’s starting, with our little ones. I just had no idea it’d be so early.

After I got over the sadness and fear of what this would mean if she were older with such high suicide rates, we talked. We’ve been talking every night about this in different ways since then.

First of all, I sympathized with this deep, sadness. We’ve all been there (but we mostly remember that when we were older). She told me, “I just feel so alone sometimes. Like I don’t belong.” [Insert more tears. But I did wait until I was away from her for that.]

I let her in on the secret: EVERY girl and woman has these feelings. She is not alone in feeling this. And we talked about how to change the narrative in her mind. It’s too young to talk about confidence, or rather a little confusing, I tried. This is something that will need to develop with time and example. So we talked about what we’re thankful for. Every day since, we’ve highlighted the things that were funny or fun, and anything that bothered her. Something so little like an old friend has new friends on the playground, that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t mean that they are not friends anymore. She’s having issues with math (she’s in Spanish so can you imagine doing math is Spanish as well..) so we’re getting her help there so she can start to enjoy it again.

When I step back and look at this situation, I’m am astonished that she is able to vocalize these feelings so succinctly at such a young age. These are themes that adults even have trouble saying so definitively. There’s one thing for sure,  I wish someone would’ve told me about all these secrets and struggles that girls and women face.

But now she knows that these thoughts are a feeling that are so common, but they don’t belong to her. And most importantly, it’s not the truth. She doesn’t need to hold onto them and harbor that sadness, alone anymore.

Today is Opposite Day

It’s funny how we decide to label ourselves. For the past decade, I’ve called myself a non runner.

But the truth is I HATE RUNNING. It just doesn’t agree with me, my knees, my body, etc.

So for years, I’ve taken up yoga, spinning and other ways to sweat and stay healthy, but I always thought how nice it would be to just go for a run and clear your head.

But that’s not who I am, I tell myself. I need a class for motivation. I need someone to tell me what to do, otherwise I won’t do it.

The thing is, when I start running, my legs itch, tingle and drive me crazy. Does that happen to anyone? It only happens when I run. I was suckered into a half marathon once and that seemed to go away but then my knee cap seemed to wither away with it so I figured that was a sign.

But today, I am a few months out from going on a vacation and it’s time to burn some calories. I double checked my 30 day free gym pass and thought…it’s time.

So I did it. I went to the gym. And that ugly treadmill just stared at me. There weren’t any classes going on, it was just me and the treadmill.

So I ran, without issue, for 25 minutes.

THAT’S HUGE (for me). I could almost hear the Rocky fight song in my head as I stepped off because today, I have defeated whatever barriers stood in the way.

It got me thinking, what else is holding me back?

Click here to hear your fight song: What does Rocky tell you?

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Photo courtesy of NIKE, Inc.