I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven years ago when I was 29. It came at a time when I was young, happy, had lots to look forward to and it threw a huge spanner in the works for everything I’d planned for my future.
Living life to the fullest
Since then I have been on a huge journey experiencing both highs and lows. I have found out what works well and helps me, and what I need to avoid to live my life to the fullest.
And also to share that seven years on life is far from bad, in fact it’s pretty damn good! It is not without challenge but certainly a far picture from how I thought things could be seven years ago.
A few years ago I started to follow Professor George Jelinek’s Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis recovery program. One part of the program recommends meditating for 30 minutes every day.
When I first started researching OMS I didn’t really pay attention to the meditation part. I figured lying around meditating couldn’t possibly be effective! My goodness I was wrong.
Giving stress its place
Stress has a HUGE impact on our lives and MS so it’s extremely important to try and manage it where you can. Some people – my husband included – consider meditation to be some hippy concept with chanting and feel that it’s not for them.
I must admit I have a huge inner hippy that was intrigued and if it did involve chanting it probably wouldn’t have put me off. But the truth is that mindfulness meditation is very straightforward.
You simply focus on what you are doing now – your breathing, what sounds you can hear, sensations you can feel. So you are concentrating on the now and bypassing the stress, what ifs or any worries you may have.
"You simply focus on what you are doing now – your breathing, what sounds you can hear, sensations you can feel. So you are concentrating on the now and bypassing the stress"
Meditation to ease fatigue
Fatigue is one of the biggest symptoms for me and I have to manage my time very carefully so I can keep up with things and not burn out.
I have two young, beautiful boys who are my whole world and keep me very busy. And again I’ve found that regular mindfulness is a massive help with this.
When my head starts to become cloudy, confused, separate from my body (fellow OMSers will understand, I cannot find the right words to describe how it feels), if I meditate regularly it feels like I’m pressing the reset button and it relaxes my whole body.
This in turn helps me to manage the fatigue. There are loads of apps for mindfulness. Headspace is my favourite.
I wish I had done this in my first few years after diagnosis as it has had such a positive influence on my life and will benefit anyone, whether they have MS or not. If I was cured of MS tomorrow I would still do it. It's priceless.