We all remember what it felt like when we received our MS diagnosis . For me, that day came with many emotions. I felt relieved to finally have a diagnosis, but I also felt fearful about the future. To say that day was overwhelming and emotionally draining is an understatement.
As the 1-year anniversary of my diagnosis approached, I thought of the grit my mother had shown me through her own health issues. I decided that I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be the woman who celebrates life and what I am capable of, rather than one who allows my sadness and my circumstances to leave me defeated. I decided that on every anniversary of my diagnosis, I would celebrate my life by letting loose and doing something new and fun.
That first year, I recruited my youngest brother and a friend of mine to go to a penny arcade and play all kinds of old games. We had a blast laughing together as we played, stirred up some friendly competition, and did something we would not normally do for fun. Because I chose happiness over self-misery, I ended that day with a smile on my face, a positive memory, and some grit of my own.
Since then, I have celebrated my anniversary every year by exploring new interests. Some of the great memories that I’ve created from this day include salsa dancing, taking a cooking class, eating at a fancy restaurant, volunteering at a political event, and getting a massage at a local spa. The anniversary of my diagnosis has become an important day that I look forward to each year. Even through some difficult years, it has always been a day for me to celebrate the great things that life has to offer. It’s a day to celebrate having grit and being a fighter!
Try making a list of fun activities you know you are capable of doing that will leave you feeling empowered and happy. Is there a skill you always wanted to have but never took the time to explore or develop? A fun or relaxing activity you could choose to celebrate your life with? Before starting any physical activities, be sure to talk to your doctor first, since each individual’s situation is different.
Those of us who walk through life with MS deserve a day to celebrate our strength. We are not strangers to pain or limitations, but we reclaim our power when we recognize our ability to create new beginnings and experience new adventures in life. Taking this particular day to enjoy and celebrate new experiences allows me to feel in control and empowered. It helps me continue to see the joys in life despite whatever struggle I may be going through.
No matter where you are in your MS journey, you deserve to smile and have positive experiences. It shows pure grit when we allow the good in life to upstage our MS.