I've already told you how my head went into a tailspin when I was diagnosed with MS. I had so many negative associations with the condition. All it conjured in my mind were thoughts of wheelchairs and progressive disability. I couldn't accept that this was what life held in store for me.
When I initially started to research the condition, all I found were negative stories too. So many that after a while and once my symptoms subsided, I put all thoughts of MS to the back of my mind. I focused on living my life, ignoring the fact that I had received this serious diagnosis.
However, those negative thoughts would sometimes creep back in. I don't know if you've noticed (and those of you lucky enough not to have any personal experience of the condition probably won't have) but in Ireland in recent years, the only time MS was mentioned in the media was in relation to Marie Fleming.
If you haven't heard of Marie, she was a brave woman who suffered a lot as a result of her MS and fought a long-running battle with the Irish State in order to absolve her husband of criminal responsibility were he to help her to end her life. While Ireland definitely needs to have a debate about euthanasia, it wasn't helpful that this was the only context in which MS was ever mentioned. It reinforced the idea of it being a debilitating condition, so debilitating that it might ruin your quality of life to the extent that you don't want to live it anymore.
Negativity at that level is hard to take. Which is why I am so pleased to share a positive MS campaign called 'You've Got This'. It aims to help people who have been newly diagnosed by giving them inspiring examples of people with MS who are living full and happy lives. I wish I had found such a site when I was struggling to find a way forward with my diagnosis but I'm delighted that such a place of hope exists today.
I'm hoping to make a contribution of my own to the site once the weekend is over (we've got a festival in Dingle this weekend and I'm back at the farmers' market so it's going to be busy). But in the meantime, I hope you'll share this post.
There are many more people with MS out there than you realise. A great many of them live with their condition in silence as I did for the past number of years. However, just because they are silent doesn't mean that they aren't struggling. A site like this could offer them some much-needed hope.