If you have a chronic illness, you're surely used to being treated like you're crazy for wanting to be NORMAL. If you're in your 20s like me, it's especially annoying when certain people in your life begin to treat you like an elderly person.
"I don't think you should do that"
"Don't go there"
"Remember your health, don't do too much"
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH
Ummmmmmmmm...NO! Thank you very much but I don't think so! I encourage my fearless readers to not only read this list but to do every last thing on it! Make the naysayers eat their words and show the world that you've still got it!
1. CARRY ANYTHING LARGER THAN 2 LBS
Imagine. You're setting up for a cookout and you pick up a half-empty bag of ice to put in the cooler. Not to run up and down the street with or swing around your head, but to move it to a cooler that is two steps away. After you do this, your uncle comes over and lectures you for 15 minutes about your condition and the reasons why you should't stress yourself. This will happen often. People around you get more scared of your condition than you are. So when these situations occur (and they will), PICK UP ANOTHER BAG OF ICE. If it is not causing any kind of physical or mental harm, why not put your muscles to work? Know "your" limits and do as you are able.
"She's in Miami? Cancun? Canada? Atlanta? Puerto Rico? She can do that? With her.... you know?" Let me stop you right there. Travel is one of the best forms of therapy! Whether you want to sit on a beach in Jamaica or go snow tubing in Switzerland, it's your prerogative! Feel free to do the things that excite you or help you to relax. JUST BE SMART ABOUT IT. Admit when you are tired or when you need to pass on an activity or getaway. Just don't allow anyone else to make that call because the only person that truly knows how you're feeling is you.
3. DRIVE A VEHICLE
"Should she really be driving such a long distance? Make sure she takes breaks to rest" Concerns like this are completely acceptable if you're driving across the country . Concerns like this are totally UNACCEPTABLE if you are taking a 35-min ride to a friends house. Encourage your loved ones to trust that you won't drive into a wall just because you have a condition. Driving while living with a chronic condition DOES NOT equal driving while under the influence.
4. TURN UP!
Several different definitions exist for this phrase. For me, I define "turning up" as genuinely enjoying the environment that I am in at that exact moment. In my world, this usually includes one or more of the following: music, dancing, friends, family and/or great vibes. Don't ever feel like you need to turn into the old lady in the shoe because you are ill. If you do, you will surely regret ignoring all of the great experiences that the world has to offer.
One of the first things that another woman living with MS told me when I was diagnosed was "forget about wearing those heels ever again girl!" I think that my eyes may have rolled alllllllllll the way back before I started giggling. I would not be who I am if I didn't serve my daily dose of cuteness. The world will tell you that you should look pale, bald and feeble when you're sick. DON'T DO IT! Continue to take pride in your appearance. As long as you are able, maintain your fabulous hair and nails, allow your gorgeous skin to glow, and kill every outfit that touches your body. BE BEAUTIFUL.
6. CONQUER THE WORLD
"So much for the MBA I wanted to earn"
"Now I'll never open my own non-profit"
"Can I still be a millionaire?"
It may sound crazy at first but yes, you can still accomplish these things! You're timeline may need to be adjusted but your dreams DO NOT need to be thrown away. Set goals and achieve them. There will definitely be challenges but there will also be an amazing, and sometimes overwhelming, sense of pride when you recognize all that you've accomplished while living with your condition. Don't let it stop you.
This list only addresses a portion of the limitations that we tend to put on ourselves when faced with a chronic illness. Often times we do this because we have allowed someone other than God to make a judgement on our lives. Want my advice? Tell them to kindly exit stage left. The greatest reward in fighting chronic illness is the ability to lead a great life in spite of it. Yes, most of the people that will discourage you will be your loved ones. They aren't trying to hurt you. They're just worried. So tell them that you have to LIVE! And after you do that, GET OUT THERE AND LIVE! I know one thing. If MS were to ever take away my sight, mobility or speech, at least I'll know that I saw everything, walked, jumped and danced all over the globe and talked in my loud, raspy voice until the very last second!
STAY TUNED AND STAY FEARLESS!