8 tips to getting your life back on track

You never forget the time when the doctors explain you have an auto-immune disease. They may have said words like “There is no known cure” or “We are not sure what causes them to develop” or even “Here are some tablets to help you with your symptoms.”

Your mind may be racing with a million different questions that are hard to get answers for. As well as having to get used to a new perception of your body that you are not familiar with.

I was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis in 2019, and although there was a certain amount of relief that I finally had an answer to why by body was behaving the way it was for many years, there was a lot of fear for the future.

So what do you do next?

Here are some steps I took to getting where I am today –

  1. Give yourself time – This is an important one. You have just had potentially life changing news. You need time to process this information. You may be bombarded with leaflets and appointments but try not to rush into any decision until you feel comfortable with your diagnosis.
  2. Get to know the “new you” – You probably won’t look any different than you did the moments before your doctors give you the news, but you may need to lead your life slightly differently than you did before. You need to learn what affects your body and be aware of these changes. It feels like you are learning to walk again. This goes hand-in-hand with giving yourself time.
  3. Do your own research – As scary as a diagnosis can be, its important to do some research on the illness. It may be something you have never heard of before or know little about. If you don’t feel ready to do this yourself, get someone you trust to look for you. Try to stick to well-known, fact-based sites (for example for MS sites like the MS Society or the MS trust are great ones to look at) so you know you are getting the right, up to date information. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the easier it is to feel in control.
  4. Get nutritional help – Once I had figured out the new me and felt more in control, I was drawn to looking at what I ate. Certain foods, drinks and lifestyle choices can aggravate many conditions and others may bring you support. I went to a nutritionist for advice. It was the best decision I ever made and implementing this advice made such a difference to my condition and how I felt. This is what lead me to now training to be a nutritional therapist and running my own programs to help support others.
  5. Love your body – Your body may change. It may look different or behave differently. But instead of feeling down, uncomfortable and embarrassed about these changes, remember how incredible your body actually is, supporting you to live a full and happy life and give thanks to these parts every day.
  6. Mindfulness and Meditation – This was a game changer for me. To some, it may seem a very “woo-woo” practice to follow but believe me it can bring so much to your life. I learnt to practice these through a course but there is lots to follow online. I learnt to be with my thoughts and quieten my “monkey mind” especially when stress can make symptoms worse in a lot of conditions.  Find some free material online or find a teacher near you.
  7. Positive mindset – Having a newly diagnosed illness can make you feel quite negative. You maybe thinking “why me” or hear depressing stories of people suffering from a similar condition. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the positive things that are all around us every day. Whether that be a beautiful sunny morning, the smell of fresh washing on the line or a warm embrace from someone you love. Try thinking of at least 10 things you feel grateful for each morning and before you go to bed. And if you feel yourself spiralling into negative thoughts, try and flip those thoughts into positive affirmations. Awareness of your thoughts is key.
  8. Never give up – We all have moments where we feel “what’s the point?” and would rather go back to bed and stay there for the day. But try to always remember, we have a beautiful life to live to its fullest and you can make a difference in the world. There are so many reasons why you should keep going. Write a list of your own reasons and keep this near you for when you need a little boost.