How My MS Diagnosis Has Helped Me Be Happier and Healthier

I was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and wow what a shock it was at the time. I was enjoying a successful career in Finance and living a full life outside of work.

After receiving my diagnosis, I remember sitting in a park crying my eyes out at the thought of what might happen and then I said to myself “I will not be a victim”.  What I meant by this was, I would do everything I could, to stay well.

I did a lot of reading about MS and other autoimmune diseases to understand more about the symptoms and causes for relapses.

managing an MS diagnosis - healthy lifestyle changes

One of the topics that kept coming up was stress. I know that stress factors can negatively impact our health in many different ways so I started thinking about what kind of stress and stressors I had in my life. I felt the need to completely overhaul my life, as I knew it.

I worked in a dynamic world, I worked hard and played hard, as the saying goes. I had considered myself to be an easy going positive person, until I got my microscope out and took a long hard look.  By definition working had and playing hard is a stressor. The roller coaster of emotions and lifestyle choices, certainly couldn’t be keeping me in the best of health, could it?

I was an insomniac, my nutrition regime was middle of the road but I could definitely do with more green leafy vegetables and most certainly less alcohol. I was grumpy in the morning, I woke up a bit more by about 11 am often fuelled by caffeine, by 11 pm I was wide awake, which was when I should have been sleeping. I went to bed only to start the cycle of insomnia, work, caffeine, work, party, sleep a bit, insomnia and hit the gym 3-4 times a week.

Consistently high or low levels of cortisol and adrenaline are not the friends of MS.

What made me happier and healthier?

I started making changes, slowly but surely.

What did I do first?

I recognised and took ownership of all the things that were having an adverse impact on my health and causing relapses. I owned the fact that my version of being an easy going and positive person was not strictly the truth.

A new lifestyle

I realised things must change in order for me to live a more well rounded, happier existence, which would hopefully help to improve my health. I reaped the results, not immediately but over time.  I have been relapse free for over 4 years and now recognise immediately if I start doing something that is not helpful to my health. I understand that MS is a complex disease and each person’s version is different, so by no means am I saying one size fits all. I am only sharing my experience of the disease and the effect it has had on my life.

disease management in the workplace

Here are some of the changes I’ve made, some of them have definitely been harder than others but I’ve persevered, with my affirmation of “I am perfect Health” continuously in sight.

  • I significantly reduced my consumption of alcohol, I’ll give you this one for free, learn from my mistakes. The health risks from increased levels of alcohol are well documented. Health experts provide alcohol limits for a very good reason. 
  • I started eating more green leafy vegetables. I fill up more on green leafy vegetables rather than a plate full of refined carbohydrates. My waistline has also greatly benefited from this.
  • I learned how to be still and comfortable with it. Previously I was always on the go, I didn’t like silence much and was always around people. I started doing things that allowed me to be quieter and listened to what my thoughts were telling me. I now choose to spend time alone to gather my thoughts, plan a bit or simply enjoy being.  Some of my greatest decisions have come from being still.
  • I take the time to be grateful.  I am here, I am alive and I feel great.
  • I smile more, the more I do It the easier it becomes and wonderful things often happen when I smile more.
  • I took the decision not to get worked up over things that would not matter, soon enough.
  • I move more. I exercise regularly including strength training 5 to 6 days a week.
  • The most recent addition, a change in my career, something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m doing something that I’m great at, evidenced by walking the talk.

Wishing you well on your health journey.

Author Bio: Rosemarie Wilson has a background in Finance and is a certified Mindset Coach, with a focus on helping individuals to create a more resilient mindset, experience less stress and enjoy life more. You can find out more at Pragmatica Coaching.

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Yours in health,