Hello Healthy Minds Community!
I’m Ashley, a 30 year old, MS-fighting, flower loving, social justice advocate with a passion for tea, books and people. I live in Port Credit, Ontario; a small suburb of Mississauga that flirts with Lake Ontario and provides many picturesque and inspirational backdrops; it’s truly a blog-writers dream!
Thank you for taking the time to visit and for reading my introduction. I’m inspired and grateful for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful initiative and hope that through writing we can bring awareness to mental health by sharing stories/support, by promoting wellness and ultimately, by breaking the stigma!
My Mental Health Journey
It started late April 2013; I was finishing up my degree in Criminal Justice and was the Vice President of our students’ federation when I lost the vision in my left eye. It happened during the course of a week and by that Friday I found myself in the hospital ER facing three rounds of high-dose steroids, blood work and a requisition for my first-ever MRI. Fast-forward nine months and 80% of my vision has returned, five MRIs have been completed, and as of November 2013, Multiple Sclerosis is my diagnosis. I’ve had to learn a whole new way of living and now I have a structured routine-like life that includes an injection once a week, daily vitamin supplements, light exercise, a vegan diet and a lot of love. Living with a chronic illness has not only become incredibly painful physically, but it has also taken its toll on my mental state. At this time, MS does not have a cure and as the disease is unpredictable, everyday brings with it a new challenge; sometimes getting out of bed is just not an option. It has greatly affected my relationships, my self-worth and even my ability to maintain my quality of life. I am challenged daily by extreme fatigue, anxiety, tremors, memory issues and spasticity, making it very difficult to live, let alone to work. The MS-world can be a very daunting place; I used to feel betrayed by it, but now I am starting to see it for what it is…a journey!
It’s through self-care, reflection, and honesty that I’ve been able to reach a point where I am comfortable in my skin again. That’s not to say that the above-mentioned issues have just gone away, but rather that I am finding new ways to adapt to my new body and life. I am no longer hosting pity-parties that drain those around me; instead I am choosing to share my challenges and to celebrate my successes. I am realizing that it’s okay to have bad days and that I am not defined by my disease.
I would like this blog to be a space where we can share our ups and downs, where we can be each others’ supports and where we can have a safe place to vent.
I hope you’ll join me on my journey!