Finding Purpose in Community Ties
Trish has now been working in the Toronto social work industry for over 6 years. Her focus has been mainly on social services and case management. In her spare time, she volunteers as a board member of Shelter Movers – an organization that supports survivors of domestic violence – and caring for her fur babies.
Trish also lives with MS. She says that it is her love for community work that energizes her for the day.
“I get excited about the fact that each day there are opportunities for me to connect with people and help them. I'm a strong believer in helping each other as a community and that we are not meant to do this alone. This really does translate into my journey with MS.”
“I'm a strong believer that we have to help each other as a community and that we are not meant to do this alone.”
A Diagnosis and a Blessing in Disguise
“My mom has MS. In that sense, you could say I was emotionally and mentally prepared. But, at the same time, I was still terrified – which is pretty normal.”
Trish first started showing symptoms in May 2017. It started with a severe migraine that wouldn't go away.
“One day I woke up, I realized half of my face and my arm were numb. I had a lot of trouble controlling my left side. I regained the full feeling in my face eventually. It was about four to five months after it happened. Then my official diagnosis came in June of 2018. It was all very quick.”
“My MS diagnosis and my journey is a bit of a blessing in disguise. It shone a light on the darker fears that I had about the disease. And seeing my mom go through it, I knew that I might have to slow down my pace sometimes. But, I also knew that my diagnosis didn’t mean that it's over. Life continues, and we get to make the most out of it.”
Self-advocacy, Transparency and Yoga
In dealing with challenges of living with MS, the caseworker relies on transparency, boundaries and self-advocacy.
“A lot of the work I do requires communication and processing of information, conversations, documents. And lately I’ve noticed the cognitive impact of MS – I’m processing things slower than usual. It's definitely a struggle. But being able to be transparent and open about my experience with MS has helped others understand me better.”
Trish focuses on mindfulness activities, and a healthy lifestyle through dieting and exercising. She is a huge believer in holistic living. She practices yoga and meditation to help her manage her MS.
“I think that's where it is so important to understand that you have to fight for what you need.”
“For me, MS is very much an invisible illness. Having to remind people of your health challenges can get tiring, especially when you don’t look sick. Again, that’s where self-advocacy comes in. I think that's where it is so important to understand that you have to fight for what you need.”
“MS has certainly changed the way that I look at life and how I live now. I think I live a more open and transparent life. I've definitely become more vocal in my needs and prioritizing self-care.”
My MS, My Rules
“My Rules” means knowing that your MS Journey is valid and true. It also means that you set your own rules based on your experience. You are strong for doing what you need to do to cope with your MS. No one can say otherwise.”
“I am able to take control of my MS by listening to my gut, knowing when to stop and knowing when to go. Believing in myself and believing that the symptoms that I'm feeling are real. That's the only way I can gather the courage to speak up.”
Trish's advice to people in the MS community is to talk more about their experiences and reach out for support. “There's always going to be someone out there who will understand and relate to your journey. No matter how unique your MS experience is, there is a community out there for you.”
“You don’t have to go through this alone. And no one should.”
Trish’s story is proof that it’s possible to experience MS on your own terms. She’s one of many other people challenging what it’s like to live with MS.
Keeping track of MS symptoms
Symptoms show up differently from person-to-person, so they need to be tracked regularly.
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