When I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I wasn’t particularly frustrated – scared yes but not agitated. I felt healthy, only experiencing some mild tingling and life essentially remained the same.
But as MS began impacting my life, I became increasingly frustrated. MS made going out socially increasingly difficult and coping with the demands of my job at times impossible. I hated MS. In my twenties life was just beginning. I had just finished university, and embarking on a new career. Yet multiple sclerosis was preventing me from living the life I had created and longed to live.
MS has been part of my life for nearly 20 years now. And I’ve learnt that agitation has the potential to be extremely destructive. The negative energy can quickly dominate your life, focusing on how life has changed for the worst.
Since then I have also discovered that if channelled correctly, agitation can provide the energy and motivation necessary to seek and create change. How do I use agitation to my advantage?
Indicates the need for change
Now when I start feeling increasingly frustrated, I take it as a sign. I realise that part of my life isn’t conducive to my wellbeing and needs to be changed. For years I ignored the sign and pushed through the agitation. But unfortunately my health suffered, I had no joy in my life and I experienced many aggressive relapses.
Yet today I know that as I become increasingly agitated then I need to make some life decisions. Whether it be where I live (from inner city living to by the beach) or my career (left corporate life, became social worker, now working from home and writing).
Provides the motivation to change
Not only does agitation indicate the need for change, but it also provides the necessary motivation to change. I now realise that experiencing frustration signals to myself and the universe that I’m not content with the status quo, which in the early years was endless relapses and hospital admissions.
Agitation provided the energy necessary to get out of bed, out of the wheelchair and back to life outside the hospital walls. Even today, when I find walking difficult, instead of feeding the frustration limited mobility has brought to my life, I become even more motivated to continue improving my functioning.
Focusing on the positives
The reality is that when functioning is compromised, difficulties with walking make many aspects of life difficult. But I have consistently chosen not to be consumed by this frustration. In the hospital, I got through the palpable frustration of lying in bed unable to move by acknowledging to myself what I could do— the improvements I was making. Maybe I couldn’t move my leg, but wriggling a toe was a good sign.
In living with MS, to minimise the frustration and to channel my energy into getting better, I choose to focus on what I can do and not lament how life had changed.
Still agitated? Of course!
But I still choose not to let agitation dominate my life. This doesn’t mean that I have accepted impaired functioning. Rather I have chosen to use this energy to create the momentum necessary to move beyond the darkness of MS.
Does multiple sclerosis make you feel agitated? Any tips to relax and enjoy the good?
Teisha Rose lives in Australia and was diagnosed with MS in 1997, aged 22. The eBook ‘Life Interrupted’ shares Teisha’s journey from this unexpected hurdle to a life filled with hope. For more information about Teisha, her book and new project Lives Interrupted visit www.livesinterrupted.com.au