How Living With a Chronic Condition Like MS Has Affected My Identity
Living with a chronic condition can have a negative impact on self-esteem, but it is important to acknowledge and process these emotions. It is okay to admit that your condition is affecting you emotionally. Life is not always perfect, and true strength is shown when you can pick yourself up from your lowest moments.
What if MS is Not the Only Chronic Condition?
In my journey towards healing, I have had to work through my emotions and accept my new life. While I often hear the phrase MS doesn't define me, I feel like accepting that would be denying a part of who I am now. I am not ashamed of my condition and I have no apologies for needing help or setting boundaries. There is a fine line between allowing MS to define who you are and denying the reality of your current situation. It may not define the essence of my soul, but it does shape the way I walk, the adjustments I have to make, the foods I eat, and the shoes I wear. Toxic positivity isn't healthy, and I prefer to see MS as defining the new and improved version of myself. I am a resilient fighter, using my experiences to help others and raising awareness.
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Some may misunderstand my perspective, but I believe that my disability is a result of multiple sclerosis and therefore it does define me, whether I like it or not. I am fully capable of doing whatever I want, but I must do so within the limitations of a handicapped person. It is important to accept myself and my new life without denying my truth. To love and have compassion for myself, I must first accept who I am now. It would be unfair to think that I am the same person I was before. Pretending that everything is okay and nothing has changed is naive and immature. Opening up and being vulnerable publicly is not a sign of defeat, but rather a sign of strength. Being true to myself allows people to see the real me, with all the ups and downs of living with a chronic disease. I believe that by showing all facets of living with MS, my readers can relate and feel understood.
MS has had both positive and negative effects on my identity. It has shown me how strong I am and allowed me to achieve things I never thought possible. However, there have also been times when I felt down and unworthy. I have gone through dark moments in my journey, but I recognized that it was all part of the process. I mourned who I used to be and allowed myself to long for the old me. Through that pain, a new and better version of myself emerged. When my emotions are low, I remind myself that All Is Well and that difficult times will pass.
In the past, I was defined as a confident and attractive woman, but now I am defined as a support group leader, blogger, and advocate in the disability community. These qualities are still good, but they are different. I am still the same person, just living in a different body. So, while my essence remains unchanged, my identity has evolved. Even without a disability or chronic disease, people naturally change and evolve over time. Priorities shift and perspectives change. Therefore, saying that a disease like MS doesn't define me doesn't make sense. I am different because of it, and I believe I am better.
Is it possible to be two different people within the same body? I didn't have a choice in that matter. It is not a contradiction, it is just who I am. I still see myself as an attractive woman, but I also identify as a person with a disability. If given the choice, I would want to go back to who I was before, but I also appreciate the positive things that have come after my diagnosis. I have become wiser, empowered, and stronger. I fully embrace who I am now and would not change it for anything. Of course, I miss my mobility, but I recognize that I reached this point through a process of transformation and metamorphosis. I am like a butterfly that emerged from its chrysalis.
Being diagnosed with MS was a turning point in my life. It shook me to my core and forever changed me. It felt like a sudden and unexpected lightning strike. I was pushed into unfamiliar territory, not knowing what to do, and I was forced to become a different version of myself. I shed my old skin and emerged as a new and improved person.