There are some hard truths in life, the biggest, and simplest, is that life is hard. This should not come as a shocking revelation. I would go so far as to say that at times you have protested as to how hard life is, either to you, or to what it is “doing” to your loved ones, your family, your friends. I’ve seen people take this realisation and let it suffocate them, let it stop them in their tracks, have them wallow in self-pity for how hard their lives have become. At one stage in my life that was me too. We’ve probably all been there, and sadly there are some people who never leave that state and the potential of their lives pass them by.
But what makes me so special, that the suffering of others, the hardships of their lives pale in comparison to mine? What makes me so special that my life, my pain, means more and that everyone should have sympathy for me? What is it that makes us think that no-one else could possibly have it as hard as we do? We’re all guilty of it, and yet everyone is struggling, everyone has hardships.
There is no comparison to measure our suffering against to see who comes out on top as the most hard done by as our experiences are our own, and yet we still see ours as the hardest.
I believe it is very easy to take the path of the martyr. To sit in your sadness, tell those who will listen of just how hard your life is and feel the love and reassurance that flows from them. I think it’s easy to be overcome with your self-pity and remain the victim of your life story. I believe it is hard to become your own hero, to become your own beast of burden, to pick up your struggles, carry them, wear them as the scars and badges of your life. I don’t mean that you necessarily take pride in the hardships, but rather to accept them as part of life.
Now, don’t take this to mean you can’t ask for help, in fact it is the complete opposite. It means take responsibility for your suffering, learn to ask for help and be proactive about bettering your situation, even if the only way to better it is to reach a place where you have accepted your suffering.
I truly believe that we can better our lives through our attitudes, and I believe we are more in control of our emotions than we sometimes realise.
I don’t think we are educated properly on our emotions, our thoughts, and how we can regulate these things properly for our benefit. I don’t think I figured this out until I was in my late 20s and I’ve been working on it since. Sadly, some of us don’t figure it out at all.
At the beginning of 2019 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In the last 12 months I’ve changed disease-modifying therapies after the first one was ineffective. It would be very easy for me during this process to get upset, to become a victim of my story and tell you all about how hard it is, about my symptoms, the side effects, my despair at starting a family and fearing I’ll not see them grow up, about how unfair it all is on me. But who is it fair on? And this isn’t to say that I didn’t engage those feelings and emotions at all – there is a place for them, a time, but for my best version of me, for my best future, I needed to work through them and refocus. I needed to shoulder those struggles and move on. In this particular instance that meant educating myself extensively so I could make the best choices for my lifestyle to give me the best chance of a long and relatively disability free life; to access all the support and care available so I know where to go when I need it; to engage with my neurologists to ensure I have the best care.
This is my burden, and I will carry it. This isn’t my only burden and I know it will not be my last. I am not worried about this. I am optimistic of my future, and I know I will be the best version of myself, something I have tried to be every day, so in that respect this burden has changed little of my life. Every day I will do the best I can to be the best version of me, to enjoy my life, my family, my friends, to give my body and mind everything it needs to thrive, not because of my burdens, not because of the MS, but because it’s the life I want to live. What life do you want to live?