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Thursday, July 9, 2015

When I "Overdose" on MS.....

The past year has been a whirlwind for me.

I started this blog in September of 2014, and in the past 10 months, I have written 70 of my own personal blogs, dozens of blogs for my fellow MS bloggers and websites, and written/published a full length non-fiction self-help book on the topic of MS. During this period of time, I met dozens of my fellow MSers around the world, created amazing contacts, and connected with so many incredible people. I was driven, motivated, and full of energy, with a goal of spreading awareness about this life-altering illness.

Recently, I have hit a bit of a slump.

I suddenly felt exhausted, overwhelmed by the topic of MS. I realized that my entire existence for almost a year had become this disease, both the physical challenges of it, as well as the constant thought and writing time devoted to the experience of the illness. I hit a wall, and realized that I had in a sense, "overdosed" on the topic.

For a few weeks, I could no longer think about it. I ran from it, stopped writing blogs, stopped even considering it. I had to avoid social media for a bit, because almost every site I visited was full of MS related information, articles, photos, and postings. These things I had so enjoyed became almost gut-wreching to look at, and I realized I needed a short break. This is a phenomenon we all likely experience, and we should pay attention to it. Sometimes, we just want to escape the awareness of the illness.

Denial comes in many forms, and it is indeed a defense mechanism that we develop to protect our minds from damaging and destructive information and thoughts. Every now and then, we simply want to feel "normal." We want to forget that we carry this burden, this incurable illness that never goes away. I believe, after experiencing this recent slump, that it is important for us to continue to live as normal a life as possible.

It is fine to spend time learning, connecting, and educating ourselves and others, but now and then, we simply need to be ourselves. The old self we used to be before our diagnosis, that long-forgotten human being that we sometimes ignore. That old healthy self that we used to identify with is still hidden beneath the surface, and now and then, we should let that old identity come up and breathe for a while.

We live a bit of a dual identity with MS, and that is normal and healthy. Though MS is a major part of our lives, we are still "us." We are still much more than our disease, and we should never forget who we truly are, aside from our illness. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the thought of MS, take a break. Take a rest, avoid the topic for a while, and come back when you feel you are ready. Though the availability of social media sites and online articles is endless, you don't necessarily need to spend every moment obsessing about the information. Take it in doses, and try to remember that you are still a valuable, contributing human being, aside from your diagnosis.
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