As I write this section I feel that people must be thinking... Really? The benefits of MS??? You must be joking! But, there actually are benefits. This is because the changes that happen when you have MS mean that you have to approach life in a different way, not just physically, but mentally too!
Below I have listed the benefits that I have found (feel free to let us know about your own):
More Strategic – The biggest thing I have found is my way of thinking, this is because the main obstacle that I have found with MS is the physical side and also the fatigue. So now I make sure that when I do something or go somewhere I try to make sure that I don't forget something. As, the last thing I want is to have to re do it or remember I've forgotten something, because this means I have to use energy that I don't have to re do it or worse I can't do it. So now when I set about something I go through a mental check list of things not to forget and things that need to be done, which as result encourages the "killing two birds with one stone" approach as a consequence. As a result I found that I can now solve problems and come to the right conclusion quicker than others around me.
Considerate: I think this goes without saying and some might say is really obvious, however I don't believe it is. When you have a condition or syndrome, especially if it is something that you get later on in life it changes you. I didn't even know what MS is before I was diagnosed! So in my attempt to find out what it is and how it affects people, as a matter of consequence you end up finding out about other conditions. It then dawns upon you that you're not the only one going through this and there are others who are going through the same or worse.
Short Cut: I've noticed that as a result of a disability, I've found that I make sure that I find the easiest way of doing something or getting somewhere. This may sound obvious, but it's true. I find that I'm always looking for the easiest way of getting somewhere, completing a task or even doing my job. This inadvertently makes me more productive!
Faith: This may sound obvious, but when you go through something that you don't expect, you start looking for answers or reasons. I've always had a belief in God, but it has got stronger. You try look at the world and think, you can't just live out your life and that's it, there has to be an end game. We are all so different and we all take actions and go through things that are different from others, it only makes sense that there will be an end of some kind.
The reason I say this is because, the Universe and it's in habitants from the smallest atom to the biggest of Solar systems are too perfectly made to just be there, just like that. Also the implications of actions that we make as humans, both the seen and the unseen can't just be accepted, it is just not believable that we won't be held to account for them. The fact that we all have different circumstances, problems and situations points to the fact that there is an end game or a reckoning if you like. Some people may read this and think that they don't believe in God whatsoever, but to those I say rather than using the word God, think of it as a guardian, entity or a higher/greater power that watches over the world. As there has to be something or someone out there.
Philosophical: Maybe this is my age, as they say the older you get, the wiser you get. But the thing is when you are struggling, you don't seem to have time to get involved in the things that you were once so unnecessarily concerned about. Maybe years ago I would have got really annoyed about something, but now I'm more inclined to just rationalise it and move on. I say to myself that it is just not worth me getting upset and annoyed about it, cos it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, as there are more important things to worry about.
Humility: I believe there was always a very small part of me that was very much "Dog eat dog" and loved the Capitalist culture, but now I start to feel that we're all people and all have good points and bad points. I believe that MS is teaching me something and opening up a part of me that I like and that part is humility.
Live and let live: I say this because when you go through something like MS and realise how fickle life is, you forget all the nonsense that you used to bothered about, such as, winning an argument, holding a grudge, pride and other general stuff that doesn't really mean much. Why carry all these burdens around with you when there are so many other things to worry about. My attitude now is, Live and let live and be of the opinion, "What goes around comes around." Let's not waste our own time and energy, your life is more important than that.
Empathy: This is something we all have, but for me this gets more and more developed as time goes on. You start to look around at the world and others who are going through strife, difficulties and calamities. You begin to understand more than ever how crucial life is and how it must be treasured. When I think about what a difficult situation mine is and how much of a struggle my life is, I realise there are plenty of others who are in a worse position than myself.
If you ask yourself that if someone was trapped in the recent horrific earthquake in Haiti and they were buried in rubble in the cold and dark, with dust in their eyes and mouth and being unable to call out or scream.
Imagine if you asked them, would they swap places with you, do you think they would? The answer is, absolutely yes! When you think of MS and it's symptoms, yes they are hard, in fact they are very hard, but I'd still rather be going through what I'm going through rather be buried in that earthquake.
Understanding others: I've noticed that the things you were once ignorant off or maybe didn't know about, you suddenly become more understanding of. To be honest, you become more interested in. Obviously this is because you are going through something yourself, but nevertheless it makes you less ignorant.
Volunteering and helping: Get involved with the local charity. I got involved with the local MS society and another charity. Even though you might not get out as much as you want, but this is great as you get to meet others with the same condition and/or also their volunteers. Then you can manage your time based on how much spare time you have. There are always things you can do, they are always looking for volunteers and it's great to get involved.
Communication: Let's face it, when it gets more and more difficult to get about you spend more and more time at home. The good thing is in the times we live in; it's easy to communicate with people. With the expansion of the internet, the advancements of social networking and the ease of email, it is even easier to keep in contact with people. We're almost forced to use social networking, so embrace it and take advantage of this...Invest in a laptop and get social networking!
Don't judge a book by its cover: When I say this I realise that that is exactly what I do, however after a recent experience it has made me think again. I was coming out of the supermarket where I work with a trolley of shopping. I was going towards my car, but due to my condition I was walking very slowly and dragging myself along, using the trolley as a walking aid. I noticed a car to the right of me with a number youths/adults listening to music with windows down. I few seconds later I notice the driver of this car coming towards me, he seemed as if he had just finished work. I looked around, but could not see anyone near me as he came closer his walk developed into a jog. At this point I saw he was quite big and muscular and could see the tattoos on his arms and could see he was some sort of manual worker, judging by clothes. At this point I was starting to feel bit nervous (The saying, I wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley sprang to mind). He was now about 10 feet way and shouted and said, "Eiya mate, do you wanna hand with that". I was just shocked and said, "I'm ok, my car is just here. He replied and said, "You sure mate" and I confirmed I was.
When I got into my car and thought to myself, "How wrong could I have been". I realised that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. This episode renewed my faith in human nature.
Becoming a better person: Having more time to appreciate things. This basically means that when you reflect, you look at life standing still rather than going at such as pace you that you barely have time to take things in. This was probably due to the fact you're so concerned about the "Rat Race" that you don't have time to consider anything else. So basically this allows you to really take hold and appreciate what you have.
Being grateful for what you have: Going back to something I've already mentioned, but once you notice that MS is not the worst thing in the world. There are much worse conditions than MS. Let's not just sit there and feel sorry for ourselves and say, "Oh my God, I've got MS, what am I gonna do now". There is just no need for that. Stay positive and be thankful that it's not something worse. It's time to move on and do the most with what you have, remember, "The day to come is longer than the year that has passed". In short, you can't change the past; you can only do something about the future. So think about what you CAN DO not what you can't do.
Blessing in disguise: I see MS as a journey that I've been destined to take for whatever reason and in the long term will help or even protect me from something else that I'd have faced. This is just nature's way of making sure I didn't go down a path that would have been even more difficult for me.
More Laughter: This is one of the best things I have found that happens. Basically anything that makes you laugh will continue to make you laugh, but now you'll laugh even more and even laugh at things that are funny, but you wouldn't have laughed at before... if that makes any sense?!? This is just fantastic, as apparently people say laughing is actually good for you, so even better! It's amazing as you just laugh even more than usual and sometimes you laugh so hard that you've got cramps in your stomach, tears in your eyes and it's uncontrollable. It could almost be embarrassing in certain situations, but who cares, it's great!
Meeting new people: Right from the fantastic Doctors, Nurses and Consultants that help you with your MS, you also get to know more people and get to know new people. This is really good as you get to know people who you would have never even come across had it not been for your MS, it's amazing as there are some fantastic people out there who do great things. What's more is that, they'll understand MS and what you're going through.
Don't feel the cold – This works as there are parts of your body you can't feel, have a lack of feeling in or sensation is not as strong. This means that the cold is not as cold as it is to others, it was few years ago when I first realised. I use to make snow balls and when doing so, my hands would not feel as cold as they use to, however this also has opposite effect with the heat, as you will know from my sauna experience. It makes me laugh, as at work in meetings someone may accidently kick me or if my boss would accidently stand on my toes (so she says) and people would apologise. I would just say its ok; I can't feel it in that leg. It would get me a couple of strange looks, but it was funny! But those who were closest to me accepted as something quirky.
Working Smarter (Added by twitter follower @tartan_miss):These tie in with being more strategic. When working or doing any jobs, we learn to become more economical with what you do. Examples include carrying a little shopper around the house, so you're not continuingly going from upstairs to downstairs or from room to room. This will help save your energy and make life easier, as you're not struggling to hold stuff.
Adapt & Improvise (Added by twitter follower @tartan_miss):This is something that we do without knowing and speaks for itself, as we just adopt, adapt and improvise. There are many examples of this. You begin to find new ways of doing things or achieving and as a result become more resourceful.
If you have any examples of your own or believe that I may have missed some, please feel free to contact us and we can add this.