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Keeping It Light with MS

By Matt Cavallo
Being newly diagnosed with MS is a defining moment in life. In an instant, you can go from seemingly normal person to someone living with a chronic illness. We then tend to go to a dark place. We start to think about how our hopes and dreams have changed. We consider our own mortality. Things can get heavy in an instant. One of the best things you can do with MS is to keep it light. Here are some ways that you can keep it light when MS leaves you in a dark place.

Don’t live a life of hypotheticals. One of the worst things you can do with MS is live a life of “what ifs.” What if I have a relapse? What if I lose my job? What if my partner leaves me? The “what ifs” are never positive. Most of us don’t ask “what if MS makes me better.” Instead we focus on the negatives. Take it from me, these “what ifs” will drive you crazy. MS is a chronic, incurable disease you will have for life, so don’t dwell on what may happen in the future. Try to keep it light instead. What if you did the best you could today and focused on what you could control? If you can break free of the “what ifs”, you’ll feel a tremendous weight has been lifted. 

Focus on the goals that you can accomplish. We all have hopes and dreams that feel like they are dashed by MS. We tend to focus on what is off in the distance instead of what is here and now. Thinking about things that you may not accomplish in the future can allow all kinds of self-doubt to set in. Instead keep it light and focus on realistic short-term goals that are attainable. You’ll find that if you set on a path to accomplish short term goals, you’ll find a sense of purpose and fulfillment. When you feel like you can still accomplish your goals, you will have the confidence to tackle your bigger long-term dreams.

Eliminate toxic people from your life. Fellow MSer, Art Alexakis, of Everclear, once sang, “I think you are blind to the fact that the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down.” Nothing weighs on a person more than toxic relationships. With MS, you don’t need the added stress of negative energy in your life. You need people in your life who will lift you up and support you and not put you down. 

If you don’t like the current state, change it. You hear people say all the time they don’t like change or they fear the unknown, yet those are the people who are often the most unhappy. My favorite definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results. If the current state of your life has you in a dark place, change it. Even if it scares you. It is better to try something new and scary than to stick with something that isn’t working.

When MS makes life feel heavy or takes you to a dark place, the key is to know it doesn’t have to stay that way. Find a way to take a lighter, more positive approach and you will feel like life with MS is much more manageable.