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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pay It Forward

As I traveled my path as an MS patient, I often found myself thinking, "If only someone understood. If only people were more supportive. I feel utterly and completely alone in my experience." How many times have you felt that your experience was unique, and that no one could have possibly shared your feelings?

I have a suggestion.....

Have you ever considered that you are in a position to inspire? Have you ever realized that there are newly diagnosed patients likely feeling exactly the way you felt at that moment? Maybe there are dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of fellow MS patients who are desperate to hear that they aren't alone. Perhaps you can be the one that pulls a fellow patient from the depths of despair, and gives them strength to carry on...

Gandhi once said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Often, as human beings, we feel so irrelevant. We feel that we cannot possibly make an impact on this world, and that we are just one solitary individual. In the case of this relatively rare disease, we are in a community of our very own. We are different, we are unique, and we share many of the same, common experiences. If you are left feeling isolated and misunderstood, it may just be time to reach out. Inspire, share, and teach others through your experience.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to share our deepest feelings and fears. But, I would argue that these deeply personal feelings are exactly the things we need to share. If we keep them bottled up, we only increase our burden. If we share, it can serve a dual purpose. We can both lift our own emotional burden, and simultaneously assist another struggling MS patient. We need to be the support we wish we had. We need to be the change we desire.

Since I began to blog, I have heard from so many patients who have expressed gratitude for simply hearing that their experience is not strange. It can be as simple as that. Do not underestimate the impact you might have on another patient's life. Being diagnosed with MS has placed you in an "exclusive club," of sorts. Not the type of club anyone would sign up for voluntarily, of course! But, being a member of this community makes you one of us. If you feel that you don't belong, and you don't fit in, just remember that we are all in this together as a community.

During this year's MS awareness month, I have been astounded at the level of energy and dedication that I have witnessed among the MS community. We are activists, we are speakers, writers, and artists. We are athletes, performers, poets, and businesspeople. The MS community is a collection of some of the most talented, intelligent, and driven people I have ever met in my life, and I am proud to be part of this club.

We should each feel a personal responsibility to take part in this effort to find a cure, and sharing your experience can be enough of a contribution. Inspire. Change the world with your story. You do indeed have the power to do so.

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