For anyone who doesn’t already know, (and be thankful if you haven’t been forced to learn, haha!) MS is a very unpredictable disease. It looks different for everyone, so there’s no way to know how the future will unfold. I happen to have a fairly mild form of it – for now, that is. I’ll go through a few years or so where I feel great, and then will have a flare up as if to remind me not to get too cocky about feeling so good. When I do have a flare up, it’s usually pretty intense and may last several months. Needless to say, this pattern can cause quite a bit of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear – if I allow myself to think too much about the possibilities!
It seems as if every time I search for something MS-related online, or flip through an MS Society magazine, all I get are visions of canes, wheelchairs and bladder control problems. If I search MS groups and message boards online I inevitably find person after person voicing their health struggles and woes. And these people have legit problems – I have great compassion for them! However, I often have to remind myself that (in general) the ones posting these tragic stories are often the worst off. They find themselves in a dark place and they get online to reach out, share their stories, and search for hope. But for those of us who are actually doing pretty well, it can paint a frightening and hopeless picture of the future.
After the birth of our third child (6 years ago), I had a flare up that was so bad it basically halted my life. I could do extremely little to help my kids, husband, or self. I basically stayed in our bedroom for weeks having spasms while my family and friends cared for my children. I’ll admit – I did resist medical treatment for a few weeks in order to nurse my newborn; if I had sought treatment sooner, it surely wouldn’t have been quite so dramatic. And yes, I have been known to be stubborn once or twice. (Insert my husband’s laughter here.)
The reason I mention that specific flare up is because, although I’ve never been professionally diagnosed, I’m almost certain I have some level of PTSD because of it. Obviously, there are many people who have been through worse situations. I almost hate to use the term “PTSD” because I don’t want to take away from their stories – war, abuse, etc. But honestly, those months were intensely painful for me, as well as crazy emotional since I wasn’t able to care for my newborn or other children.
That being said, each time I feel the slightest twinge in my leg that reminds me of that time, anxiety floods my mind and body. My mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario and I start planning ways for my family to do life without my participation. Not to brag or anything, but as a homeschool mom of three, my involvement is fairly crucial to our days functioning smoothly! CBD oil helps me a lot, but it’s not enough to work on a deeper, spiritual level.
So then I have a choice. Do I let myself get sucked down the trail of doom in my mind? Or do I deliberately choose to speak truth and hope into my life? Truthfully, it’s a mind battle between the two, but so far hope and truth have always won out in the end. But only with Jesus’ help. Honestly, oftentimes in those situations my first and most prominent prayer is simply: “Jesus.” So much meaning behind one name. And since God and I are tight, I rest easy knowing that he knows what I mean. I don’t say it as some do, out of frustration. When my prayer is simply “Jesus” what I’m really saying is:
“Help me, God. I don’t have the strength for this. I’m too tired. I’m scared. I need you to carry this and take it away. I need you to be by my side as I go through whatever I’m about to go through. I need your peace so I’m not terrified and defeated.”
And then the anxiety eases. And maybe it comes back five, twenty, or forty five minutes later, and I whisper another “Jesus.” And it eases again. Lather, rinse, repeat indefinitely.
If I don’t have the confidence that comes with knowing Jesus is always with me no matter what, loving me and helping me as I go, then I will always be anxious and scared when a flare up (or any other stressful life circumstance) occurs. But since I do have this confidence, I know that I will ultimately get to a point where I say, “Whatever happens, God will be with me to help me and provide for my needs and my family’s needs. He always has and he always will.” And it’s after I’ve gotten to this point where I can truly move on with my day and live without fear for the future. It’s at this point I can live the life I have and not the life I fear I’ll have one day.