Four and a half years ago in July of 2014 I moved to Brisbane from London with my Fiancé (now husband). Relocating from one side of the world to the other is a huge experience, we had no jobs, house, friends or family near us. A very stressful time in both of our lives. That November I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
MS is a chronic debilitating disease that affects everybody differently, MS is a degeneration of the myelin sheaths protecting our nerves. The symptoms include but are certainly not limited to: muscle spasms, numbness, balance problems and lack of coordination, difficulty moving arms and legs, unsteady gait and trouble walking, weakness or tremor in one or both arms or legs.
My MS looks like muscular spasms, fatigue, low vision, mood swings, tremors and at times I have suffered from paralysis as well as loss of speech. My MS has changed my life, the stage I am at is referred to as remitting-relapsing. This means at unknown points throughout my life and for no given reason I can relapse. These relapses usually last a couple of months then I return to state of remission. I have relapsed many times during my life and since being diagnosed, my vision is the main symptom that affects me the most. Over the last eighteen months the progression of my disease has worsened resulting in a change of treatment plans. Initially I was on a drug called Copaxone (daily injections), I relapsed in May 2018 and I started on Tysabri (monthly hospital infusions). My MS looks different every day, month and year. I no longer feel sad about my circumstance however at times it is testing.
After my diagnosis in 2014 I had a lot of anger and other negative emotions. I was blaming my situation for everything ‘not going to plan’ in my life. I was sabotaging my happiness, it was ugly and 100% the wrong way to handle everything. I can only really make these judgements on myself in moments of reflections as at the time I was oblivious to the harm I was causing myself emotionally and mentally.
Everything changed when I allowed myself time to grieve. It was very important for me to say goodbye to the Abbey I once knew. I had to make room for this new Abbey, an Abbey with a chronic debilitating disease, an Abbey that needed to ask for help – not an Aries thing to do! I did not know how to talk about it, approach it, tell my employer, share it with my friends and family, I didn’t even know what a Neurologist was let alone where the closest hospital was. With months of education, understanding and support things started to become easier – not better but easier.
Then the universe conspired to help me. I was standing in the yoga studio of Mindful Living Matters with Deb. I had practiced yoga in the past, been to many different studios, gyms and practiced at home but never consistently. I remember very, very clearly my first class with Deb, I knew I was in the right place. After the most beautiful and calming yoga practice I had ever experienced I was getting ready to leave. I remember a very strong instinct to hug and thank Deb, it was everything I needed at that time. I cried happy tears the whole way home, there was a weight lifting off my shoulders and I was facing the right direction.
For me yoga has been a game changer. I don’t know who or where I would be without it. Yoga stops me going too far in the future or living in the past. It is my constant humble reminder that we are all one. It helps me slow down and breathe. I cope better with yoga in my life. This was my first really engaging experience with a yoga practice. Since then I have had more and more that I love to share with you all.
I hope my story reaches out to anybody who may be feeling lost or facing the wrong direction and reminds them that they are not alone. We can live a simple, happy life content with our circumstance. We are not defined by the cards we are dealt.