Why did you decide to write MS Madness!?
“After my diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis so many crazy things happened that they were actually hard to believe. People in my life told me that I should be angry, but I wasn’t. I was frustrated and I think that is a harder stage to deal with.
It got to the point where I would just have to throw my hands up in the air and cackle maniacally at the insane journey that my new MS life was taking me on. When I started to make fun of that insanity, I felt better; almost like I was beating up on the MS bully. To help me keep my sense of humor I started writing down what I thought was so funny and before I knew it, MS Madness! was born! I thought if I could help others giggle at the crazy in their lives with multiple sclerosis then all the better.”
How long did it take from idea to publishing?
“I started writing MS Madness! in April of 2010, four month after my diagnosis. In late June of that year, I was forced to stop working and I tried to sort out my life and eventually had time to write steadily. (I also had a ton of material!!) I probably finished writing MS Madness! around spring of 2012 and in the spring of 2013 I signed with a small publishing company. The final book came out in February of 2014. In addition to not working I also had a writing group that helped keep me focused and committed.”
How do you think laughing and humor help dealing with multiple sclerosis?
“I think they are huge in coping with MS. There is scientific evidence that a positive attitude is good for you. What’s more positive than a smile or a good old fit of the giggles? I’m not a scientist myself, so I’m only guessing, but the reason a positive attitude may be good for you is because it is release of negative energy in your body. Do you know that almost calm feeling you get after a huge, sobbing filled breakdown? It’s because you have released the energy that was causing your breakdown in the first place. Laughter can do the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have cried tons of tears on my journey. But when I can laugh, I have more fun. Also, I think in a slightly sadistic way, when I can make fun of the crazy that MS brings I feel like I am fighting back. Please know that I in no way make fun of the seriousness that is multiple sclerosis. MS itself is not funny. But with the right perspective, things that come from MS can be and to me, that’s a good thing.”
How can others that want to laugh read MS Madness?
“I say just pick it up and start reading. I designed it to be a fun, lighthearted read. My goal was to make it the chronic illness version of Bridget Jones Diary. Except I don’t wind up with Colin Firth at the end. Not yet anyway! It reads like fiction although trust me, it’s not. I lived through every bizarre story in it. Be prepared that MS Madness! is not a medical book; unless a description of MS as a twisted game of Pacman taking place in your body is medical terminology. (That description is in my book and it was written before Ann Romney’s book described MS in the same way. I want to be clear on that so I don’t get sued-haha)
Finally, I would like to add that taking care of ourselves with MS has a lot in common with taking better care of our health in a general way. With this in mind the stories in MS Madness! apply to everyone, not just those with chronic illness. I make fun of exercising, eating healthy, dating (or not dating in my sad case,) aging, relationships and many other aspects of life that can test our sanity.”
What do you think of the future of MS?
“When I was diagnosed just over six years ago there were no options for oral medications. Now there are how many, 4 or 5? That just goes to show that scientists are making progress and to me, a cure is possible in the future. Let’s say the near future. Also, with social media and awesome websites like Modern Day MS we are learning from and supporting each other. MS is many things but it no longer needs to be such an isolating illness. There is a hope for a brighter future for us.”
Please share Yvonne’s story to teach others that multiple sclerosis does not look a specific way. You might interact with people silently suffering every day. You may also enjoy Maria’s Real MS Story.