My MS journey to happiness and joy, by Gary Stephenson


Multiple Sclerosis Auckland 33 1Ja0nu7a5mrcn3orey ha1dttat 09:12 ·

My MS journey to happiness and joy, by Gary Stephenson I will start by changing one word in the wonderful song for the film ‘Love Story’: “Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be”. I will change that to: “Where do I begin to tell the story of how great a life can be” Life does change when you have MS, but you can still enjoy a great life, a joyous life, a life full of love, don’t let MS define you or who you are. I read that a person with MS uses 30 percent more energy at rest than a person without MS: think about that! You need to go easy on yourself. I was diagnosed in 2006 at 48 and was overwhelmed. I couldn’t cope. I was angry, confused, and suicidal, I could no longer burn the candle at both ends, I couldn’t multitask like before. My brain couldn’t cope, and my body could not keep up. By 11.30 in the morning, I was totally wiped out. I retired at 55 years old. A year’s worth of cognitive-behavioral therapy taught me that I could still do what I used to do to the same standard. I just took a darn sight longer. It was the mental reset that I needed. Yes, I still overdo things in the garden, and physical fatigue hits. Or I write too much and cognitive fatigue wipes me out. When either of these happens to me, I just rest. If I really overdo things, then the following day I rest, giving my mind and body the time they deserve. I no longer feel guilty. Why should I. My body and mind need recovery time. Think 30 percent more energy at rest and you can understand what happens with activity. There are times when I’m cognitively too tired to watch a movie, I listen to music, close my eyes and relax. If I can’t do something one day, then fine I’ll do it when I can. No harm done. Life is to be enjoyed not endured. Things will still get done, just later. Give yourself a break; it does work. Like most of us, I still have a lot of annoying symptoms for which there are drugs, creams, cooling towels, cooling jacket, cold shower, calf socks for calf cramps, gentle exercise, walking sticks, bladder (know where the nearest toilet is!), positive thinking and being gentle with yourself works wonders: or a cuddle with our rabbits. I started writing to keep my mind active with no intention of publishing. My literary agent has recently achieved a 10-year contract with a new publisher, which was great news. They will republish my Charles Langham political environmental trilogy before Christmas, and next year my children’s book based on my rabbits. They want my new novel, a murder mystery called, ‘Occidendum me’ (a man explains to his wife how and why he died and who killed him) and any further books I write. My agent knows I have MS and I research a lot and write at my own pace, for my own en