What marks the start of one chapter and the end of another? A year ago if someone had predicted the last six months of my life I’d never have believed them. And what a few months they have been – the highest of highs and the scariest lows – the perfect snapshot of life in general I guess. Those few months have taught me more about myself then I could ever have possibly imagined – and I’m still learning, because we’re always learning.
During my teens I suffered from depression on and off. I didn’t deal with it in the best of ways but, good or bad, my way of dealing with it still got me through. Without going into the whole story (that’s for another day), with the support of the fantastic people in my life and the amazing Pieta house, I came through the other side. It didn’t happen overnight – it was months, years even, of constantly remembering the tools of coping that Pieta had taught me, of constantly questioning every little negative thought and fighting against them. I’d grown up seeing myself as a negative person – negativity was my default setting – but I was determined to change that. And change it I did.
It wasn’t until after the whole MS diagnosis that I realised that somewhere along the way I’d changed my default setting. I amazed myself with the way I coped with my three weeks in hospital. I focused on the now and refused to let myself dwell on what could be. If something bad was waiting for me around the corner then I’d deal with it and face it when the time came. Worrying about it gave it control, and worrying about it was not going to stop it in its tracks. I remember a student doctor saying to me: “You’re very positive.” And I thought: Why shouldn’t I be? In the third week my consultant asked: “How are you?” “Fine,” I replied. “No, how are you in yourself,” he questioned. “Myself,” I thought. “How am I in myself?” I checked in with myself everyday, I was ready to deal with any emotions that may have eventually floored me – but I would not let the fear of those emotions do that. So when I felt like crying, I cried. When I felt like smiling or laughing, then I did just that. I dealt with the present and allowed myself to deal with the ups and downs of the emotional rollercoaster as they hit. Not a moment before or a moment after. I lay in MRI machines planning the flooring that we would put down in our new house. Because life goes on despite everything – and I was still a part of that.
Yes, there have been some awful days, with plenty of crying, wondering, learning to navigate the new world of dealing with an illness that constantly screams for attention, dealing with daily injections and mountains of hospital appointments. Yes, I’m scared when I think about it too much, but I can’t dwell on the what-ifs – the fear of them is enough to destroy all the beautiful, amazing things in my life.
I’m no longer the same person I was six months ago. So much has happened. But it’s not all been bad – there’s been so much more good wrapped up in there.
So when last week my best friend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him I knew we were ready to face whatever may come. We were ready to move on to yet another chapter of our lives together. He’s survived two brain tumours and I have MS. In sickness and in health – how much those words will mean to us. I suppose it’s easy to feel angry and think that at 25 we shouldn’t have experienced the things we have, we shouldn’t really understand the true meaning of those words. But at some point most people will. We know that whatever may come we’ll face it together – we’re stronger because of it, happier even – and at 25 we understand the importance of cherishing every moment together. That’s the thing with life. There’s no single point which marks out the best bits – they’re thrown in there and mudled up with all the tough bits and the hard times – so you need to seize them and dance in their light. The best bits are always yet to come.