My Difficulty is MS’s Opportunity

The 1916 Easter Rising is something that, as an Irish person, you grow up being aware of but it’s not something I knew too much about. It’s significance will really be amplified this weekend as there are so many events organised in Dublin city centre as well as the rest of the country. Town is only a twenty minute walk from my house so  I’ll definitely take a stroll in and witness some of the festivities for myself this Sunday and Monday. I don’t foresee any similar commemorations happening in my lifetime. So seize the day 🙂

There’s a plethora of programmes, documentaries, YouTube clips etc… that go into detail about the Rising. I recently watched Brendan O’Carroll’s BBC One documentary where he followed the footsteps of his uncles and the part they played in the Rising itself. That’s what really caught my intrigue. Plus it’s absolutely everywhere so I knew I’d have no choice but to embrace it. And I’m glad I have. As with anything that catches my interest I try to associate it with my own life.

How can you link something that happened 100 hundred years ago to your situation? I hear you ask. Sure I’ll give it a go and we’ll see how it transpires. I won’t go into the history books and whip out the facts, I’ll base it on my own understanding so feel free to correct me if I’m way off 🙂

I’d love to be able to compare myself to Ireland and say that I’m gaining independence from MS. That’s not the case though. I did say to Michelle this morning that I think I’m like Ireland because I’m small and friendly but she pulled apart my theory with a weary and disinterested sigh 😛

In this scenario I’m England. I am the Empire (I just realised I could have used a Star Wars reference for this blog but we’ll stick with 1916). While the British Empire, many Irish soldiers included, were fighting World War I, a small number of Irish men & women who remained in the country seen the chance to rebel against British Rule. “England’s difficulty is Irelands Opportunity”. 

Ireland (albeit in very small numbers) took advantage while England was distracted. I can’t allow MS capitalise in the same way. Life, that little old chancer, is the biggest distraction of them all. Stress is one of the main catalysts for many illnesses. In previous blogs I emphasise how exercise and diet were the main reasons for me both becoming ill and recovering. They are the external reasons, obvious for people to see. Stress is internal and not evident to anybody. It certainly wasn’t evident to me. People who manage to get on with life straight after a massive shock such as loss, heartbreak, pain or humiliation are seen as very admirable. But internally the scars can fester and may not surface until years later or not at all. That doesn’t mean the damage isn’t there.

It’s only over the last while I’ve noticed a change in myself and others have said it to me too. Perhaps it’s a confidence that wasn’t there before, I don’t know. I talked in my first blog about practicing mindfulness but not being able to take it seriously. I downloaded a mindfulness app called headspace a while ago and done a few sessions of it. I haven’t stuck to it but I certainly have learned from it. Basically, it compares the thoughts in your head to cars in traffic. When all is going well traffic flows perfectly. Everything is as it should be. When things aren’t going well all those thoughts start to crash into each other causing our heads to go fuzzy and preventing us from thinking straight. I found this very relevant to me. It was only on reflecting on how I reacted to large-scale stressful events in my own life that I realised that these car crash moments actually must have done me damage. There’s no way they couldn’t have. But I continued to get on with life without feeling the need for reflection or discussion (well maybe when drunk but I don’t think that counts). The affects of these events obviously festered.

Difficult or stressful situations and events are inevitable and in some cases unavoidable. And that’s okay. I think I used to fear them. Now they make me focused. When I feel stress coming on I am mindful to take a step back in my own head, let the traffic pass and allow the relevant thought to come to the forefront of my mind. Whereas before panic would have been the order of the day. Just as with the exercise and diet I have no choice but to do this. MS is lingering and I have to be attentive to it, always. If I don’t I’m fearful of an internal Rising happening in my brain. Unlike England and the leaders of the 1916 Rising, I cannot make a martyr out of MS. I will always be aware, however, that my difficulty will be MS’s opportunity.

All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born” Easter 1916, W.B. Yeats