One of the best parts of writing for the MS Connection blog is reading the comments that readers leave.
Yes, you read that right. Sites like this are some of the few places, it appears, on the internet where the “don’t read the comments” rule doesn’t seem to apply. I read every single comment that is left on here, on my personal blog, and on my social media posts. And I delight in receiving emails and private messages. They’re equal parts heartbreaking and encouraging.
I hear from fellow MSers — ones without a solid and positive support system, ones who are newly diagnosed and confused, just wanting someone to connect with, and ones who have been living with this disease for quite some time and are just looking for a fresh pick-me-up. I also hear from caretakers, desperate to help spread awareness.
But why me? I’m no expert. I don’t have a medical background, nor a psychological or pharmaceutical one. I’d humbly like to believe it’s because I aim to write authentically — not with starry-eyed delusion, but with real, genuine and relatable stories and experiences. However, writing these articles and attempting to spread positivity doesn’t make me immune to bad days, to feeling hopeless, to feeling anger. And I want to embrace those emotions just as much as I do the positivity…because that’s what makes us beautiful, what makes us human. The ability to feel and express pain is a privilege. Hold onto that. It means you’re alive.
I often battle feelings of guilt. I feel like I’m speaking from a “privileged” standpoint, in that I have relapsing-remitting MS, I’m carrying on pretty much as normal (or at least as normal as my new normal can be), my MS is not progressing quickly, and I’m fortunate to have an amazing support network. But, as silly as it may sound, I have to remind myself that living with MS is not a competition (I mean, really, who wants to win that contest?).
We’re a family here and just as much as my articles may lift you up and hopefully give you something you may need to hear in that moment, I receive the same from you in the feedback you leave.
Let us remember that this is a safe space and preserve it by continuing to lift each other up and learn from one another. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing cartwheels or you are in a wheelchair. It doesn’t matter if you were diagnosed three months ago or thirty years ago. We’re all in this together.
And I am here for you.
This article was authored by Cat Stappas and originally published on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s blog, MSConnection.org, on October 20, 2016.