Now I’m comfortable in my skin

Multiple sclerosis affects everyone differently. My life was busy with work, family and a tiny wee bit of MS until medical retirement arrived. My MS started in 1972 but it was not diagnosed until 1996 with RRMS. MS made no impact on my life even after diagnosis, the relapses were very sporadic and disappeared as soon as they arrived. I was very comfortable in my skin.

The inevitable changes

In 2020 the diagnosis changed to SPMS and initially nothing changed. I still had a busy life; working, happily married with three children and a dog but I was in complete denial.

Was I living a lie?

Slowly walking became trickier. Living with my bladder turned into a nightmare. In 2012 I had no option but to take medical retirement. Everything demanded too much energy.

Medically retired

Suddenly there was a huge elephant in the room. This was the moment when denial was unacceptable.

I had to accept that I had multiple sclerosis.

The disabilities started to grow and have a significant impact upon my life. In the space of only a few months all my self-confidence drained away. Now I’m uncomfortable in my skin

What can I do?

I felt insecure and inadequate. I missed the excitement of working on projects.

Why had MS slowly, stealthily and incontrovertibly changed my life?

Why had this happened before any drugs to diminish the effect of MS been discovered? This was just the beginning.

Suddenly a failure

My failure to contribute any money to the household except state benefits did not help. Luckily my wife had started a business looking after dogs at home, doggy day care, and that paid the bills.

I did not want to accept that my body had changed because I was still me. OK, I had MS and the MS elephant did not fill me with joy or happiness.

I tried counselling

CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) was a total waste of time and did not help me one jot. I then went to three different counsellors. All of them listened to me but did not help me. What a total waste of money. By now I had been retired for several years.

I felt like a used tea bag on a compost heap, discarded and unwanted.

Then a friend of mine recommended a different counsellor. “Oh yeah, really! Well nothing ventured, nothing gained”, I thought to myself.

I had struck gold

This new counsellor was someone who listened and talked to me. A two way conversation, suddenly counselling was a positive process. The hourly conversation happened every Tuesday evening and it was a revelation.

My self-confidence and self-belief returned but it was a 15 month process. I was no longer ashamed of my hidden disabilities. Conviction in my ability to achieve a happy life was being restored.

I am sure everyone diagnosed with MS will, at some point, hit a wall. Usually it’s at diagnosis.

With me it was nearly 20 years later. Now I was comfortable in my skin and was happy to accept that I had multiple sclerosis.

The elephant is still there but it’s a lot smaller.

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August 2021

2 responses to “Now I’m comfortable in my skin”

  1. Siobhan Wall says:

    You may feel that you have had to pick up the (metaphorical) pieces and start again but you write really well. I liked your phrase “I felt like a used tea bag on a compost heap, discarded and unwanted”. Such a perfect image for those of us with MS!

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