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MS & Relationships

It probably doesn't come as a surprise that being told you have an illness that is potentially going to change how you live your life is going to affect the relationships around you, for better and for worse, and this is my own experience so far.

I am no longer the same person that I was, I have had to give her up. It used to be so easy to put people before me, to go out of my way to please others, to do what others wanted me to do, to be there whenever people needed me, to do what I could to help people. Now I have been given no other choice but to focus on myself, my own wants and needs - and I know it will come as a shock to some people. I have always been caring; I cared too much about what other people thought about me and sometimes I cared too much about the wrong people. So when friends, family and my partner would come to me with their worries and troubles, I would take them on as my own problems and feel what they feel - I would become just as stressed, anxious and angry. That is no longer an option for me these days; my own worries, stress and problems will now manifest themselves as symptoms, which I know ultimately I cannot avoid, but I will still try my damn best. This means that I can't possibly take on other people's as well as try and deal with my own, it's not realistic for me anymore. Obviously, I will still try my very best to be a good friend, relative and partner, but don't count on me for now.

Understand that I might need some space, some more patience than I usually would because I am now grieving the old version of myself - the version that could be counted on; the girl that was carefree, the girl always up for a good time, that would stay up all night partying, that would dance until my feet hurt, that would never worry about money or anything for that matter, because I had time, I was young and invincible. Now I am the woman whose body aches and hurts each day, who needs lots of rest because the fatigue is hard to handle sometimes, whose memory is now a bit foggy, who made life plans that have now either had to be put on hold, or completely put off altogether. I will be the woman who takes each day as it comes, who is in and out of hospital constantly, who might forget about little and big things going on around me, who will need to put myself and my health above anything else, whether I like it or not. So please don't count on me yet, don't pin all of your hopes on me showing up because now it's time for me to show up for myself.

When realising all of this, I have also come to really appreciate the people that I do have around me. My relationship with my partner has never been better; it's such a wonderful feeling knowing that I have found my person, who is by my side through thick and thin, who knows me better than I know myself (like when I say I don't want anything from the shop, he knows to come back with some chocolate and a drink). Things have not always been easy for us, like any relationship and we have been through a hell of a lot in the past 4 years: moving in together after 4 months, too much partying and drugs, a pregnancy that did not go to plan, a pandemic, starting up his own business while I wasn't working, and now the cherry on top of the cake which is the delightful MS - I was so sure that this would be the thing that would send him running, but miraculously, it brought us so much closer together. Glenn makes me feel so safe, calm, accepted and understood and no matter what we go through, it always seems easier knowing that we have each other - it also helps that he literally has me in stitches every day. I could go on and on all day about how in love I am and how happy I am, but for now I will keep it to myself, live in it and appreciate every second.

The relationships I have with my friends and family have also never been stronger; not going out and getting bladdered every weekend has done me the world of good because now I don't just look for drinking buddies or people to give shit to when I've had too much to drink - now I only want any kind of relationship if it is meaningful and safe (if you have ever had any kind of toxic relationship with anyone, you will know what I mean by 'safe'). I have also started asking people if they would like to come with me when I start my treatment, as I know that I won't ever really be able to explain what is happening with my body, but I can kind of show it.

Anyway, I am so grateful for everyone I have around me, my amazing support system, my reasons to keep plodding along and to show MS just how terrifying, brave and strong a five foot fully grown woman can be.

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