I have recently been hearing of dating woes of young adults with MS. This applies to anyone with MS, but as I am getting married in less than two months, I’m thinking back to the last couple years.
In 2011, when I was at Summer Project, I had a discipler who told me when I was sharing my MS-woes, “If a guy won’t date you because you have MS, then he’s not even worth your time.” This troubled me because unlike all these other girls in college who had had so many boyfriends, I did not. I was…me. I had a limp, and there was no interest. Anyway, I started writing letters to friends, one of them being my now-fiance, Dr. Wile E. Coyote. In writing letters, we got to know each others’ hearts and our spirits. He couldn’t focus on things it appears I may not be able to do, because he couldn’t see it. We were hours away from each other, and pretty much only wrote letters. Yes, there are things I can’t do. But there are so many more that I can.
What bothers me is when people can’t see past a limp; a disease; a label. “She has MS, so she’ll never be able to have a good job and earn enough money, so she shouldn’t even be in a relationship with my boy.” There is discrimination against people who have a disease such as MS not only in the workplace, but in uneducated opinions of the general public. Diseases like MS aren’t a death sentence. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, and even though some of my visible symptoms seem to be getting worse, I am just fine. I’ve had to learn some hard lessons over the years. What friendships are worth pouring myself into? What is worth my time doing that won’t wipe me out or leave me feeling unworthy?
Because I had just begun puberty when I was diagnosed, I have learned about myself while learning about how to handle the MS. I know my limits and what I can do, as well as who I am and what I’m passionate about. The more comfortable I became being myself, the easier the MS was to handle and deal with. It is a part of me, but it does not define me. You don’t want to be my friend because I have MS? That’s okay, you would be a terrible friend, anyway.
It is because of the MS that I have matured and become the person that I am. Those who stop being my friend because of my disease may not be able to handle health issues in themselves or their families later. Having MS has taught me to be empathetic to others who are different, and I can relate to many more people than I would otherwise be able to.
I am so blessed to be where I am at now. About to marry my best friend, who looks at me and sees me? Sure, the MS is there, but it doesn’t define me. I have had some great support over the years, and I love being a support to others who have MS; those who have had it longer than I have, as well as those recently diagnosed. If you’re the friend or family member of someone with MS, one of the best things you can do is be there. You won’t be able to understand completely, and that’s okay. A lot of times, we just want to be treated normally! Most of all, thank you for sticking with us.