Its official! It’s been a whole year since my first flare up. I admit, there are probably a thousand other things I could and should be celebrating but today, I pay tribute to my MS. What a strange concept, to celebrate a disease; especially one that has impacted my life, my relationships and my outlook on my future. However, despite the years’ hardships, my MS has changed me for the better and in ways I could have never imagined.

It’s been an incredible transformation year; my mind, body, heart and spirit have undergone some powerful challenges.

I started in a dark place, one that took me prisoner and handed me the ‘sick person’ label. This was the first time I experienced utter powerlessness; the first time I couldn’t talk my way out of something and the first time I felt completely alone amongst great minds. It was also around this time that I was handed over to my team of doctors, MRI machines and reports, when I became a number and a plastic blue hospital card. I wallowed in self-pity, pushed away my loved ones and spent hours of my day locked in a deeply broken mind. Every good thought that came in was quickly attacked, doubted and dismissed; life became the battle of the sick versus the able-bodied and I was prepared for an epic battle.

Little did I know that there was no battle, rather just those negative assumptions I’ve talked so much about. When reality kicked in, I had started a war with the only people who would see me through to the other side; my family, my friends and my love.

It wasn’t a good place but I’m thankful that I had the chance to experience such bitterness; it took me a while to see it, but that level of darkness is also a gift. I began to paint with the colours that formed in my shadows and learned to move within the darkness of my day. Eventually I was able to form a level of comfort in my solidarity and found my outlet and lightness in writing. Instead of looking at the world with a ‘woe-is-me’ attitude, I decided to channel my energy into the good. While everyday continues to be a battle, I am no longer seduced by the voice that lives in the dark side of my MS; it’s just not worth it. I’m not finished trying to change this world and I refuse to let my body be the reason I can’t complete a normal day. Grant you, when I push my body pushes back and when it does, it hits hard, but its established boundaries and I’m learning to work within them. I have developed a faith in trusting my journey, even when I don’t understand its path. All I can do is take care of myself and believe in the great minds responsible for helping me get there. I am better than my MS and I will never allow it to define me again; my heart is far too passionate to be ‘sick’!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a day to get to…

About

Ashley Martin is a social justice and mental health advocate living with MS. Ashley has found an outlet to help others and by writing about her experiences both here and for the MS Society of Canada. Follower her journey on HMC's Supportive Minds Blog, and follow Ashley on Twitter.

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