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A lot has changed (for the better)!

"My worries that I would not be able to be active for much longer have not become reality. Instead, I find myself on my road bike, on my mountain bike or in my running shoes."

Click here to read Judith's story in German.

On the 22nd of December I wrote about my 3-year MS diagnosis anniversary on Instagram. Lucy from the OMS team asked me whether I can write something similar for the OMS page – and here I am. It is January now, and another MS related anniversary has come. This month, also three years ago, I started to follow the OMS program. It is time to look back and to reflect on my journey!

Receiving a diagnosis

After my diagnosis, a few days before Christmas 2017, I knew that my life would change drastically within the years to come. I did not know what will happen, and how this chronic illness will affect my life. I would be lying if I said that I was always optimistic; and it would not be true if I said that there was no moment where I was afraid that I will not be able to follow my dreams anymore. Of course, I was afraid that I cannot finish my studies anymore, that I will be forced to stop doing sports, and that some people will turn their back on me.

And indeed – a lot has changed in the past three years! But my life has not changed to a less bearable life: Nothing I mentioned above has become true. Contrary, a whole bunch of both big and small things in my life has changed for the better.

Looking to the future

My plans for the future have changed. I studied at University to be a Maths and German teacher at secondary level. One day I realised that this would not be the ideal job for me anymore as it can be very stressful at times. When my MS gives me a hard time, I would still need to go to school and be there for my students. It would not be an option to work from home. For a while I was not sure what I wanted to do instead. I had always played with the thought of doing a PhD, but I did not think I would make it (especially now with MS). Then something in my mind changed and I thought “Now more than ever”! I decided that MS will not stop me from reaching for the stars. Today, I am aiming for a university career, and hopefully I can call myself “Dr” in a few years, and many more years later “Prof.” (let’s not stop dreaming!)

Since the day of my diagnosis, I have also learned a lot about friendship. I know who my friends are, I know who will always be there for me, no matter how deep the hole I fall into is. I am grateful for every single person in my life who accepts and loves me the way I am. Vice versa, I have also learned that everyone is different, that everyone’s reality is different, and that I want to understand their way of thinking and acting to be a better friend with helpful thoughts for them. I hope that I have learned to be more understanding and patient with other people.

Further, I have learned to communicate my needs, to talk about my feelings, and that there is no shame in feeling down, crying and to be in despair. I have learned to be honest when someone asks me how I am, and I have started to learn how to listen to my body and to give myself time when I need it without feeling useless, unproductive or worthless (well, I still must get better here).

Finally, more than three years after my diagnosis, my worries that I would not be able to be active for much longer have not become reality. Instead, I find myself on my road bike, on my mountain bike or in my running shoes. I have joined an athletics club over 16 months ago, and I plan to join a triathlon club this year to do my first triathlon ever. Never in my life have I been fitter – and I love it, since it is not only great for my physical health, but also for my mental health.

My diagnosis has its downsides, but I always try to see the positive sides in everything life throws at me. This journey has given me plenty of opportunities to reflect on life: What is important for me? Who do I want to spend my life with? Who do I want to be? I have developed a healthier lifestyle, I live every moment to the fullest, and I am not afraid to be the person who I am – with all the colourful feelings I experience.

I think I have found the best possible way for myself coping with this illness, and I am proud of the person I have become and of the life I have built around me.

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