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Diagnosed with MS at 22 years old

@chloekimberley
Diagnosed with MS at 22 years old

I was diagnosed with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) at age 22 after experiencing numbness on the left side of my face for several months. The diagnosis took 8 months and a further 6 months to start treatment. Being told at 22 years old that you have a lifelong condition with no cure was a sole destroying moment. All I really knew about MS was how severally disabled it can make a person (as that is how it is always portrayed on the TV). I, therefore, went into shut down mode. I didn't speak to anyone about it. I ignored it for at least 6 months.

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Now nearly 2 years after my diagnosis, I can talk about it, and I feel more knowledgeable. I still have a whole lot more to learn, though! MS doesn't ruin your life, it just becomes part of it, and you learn to live alongside it. I no longer allow this condition to alter my life. That's why on the 30th of May (World MS Day), I jumped out of a plane, raising over ÂŁ1000 for the MS Trust. Doing this reassured me that just because I have MS does not define me, and I can do the things I have always wanted to.

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When researching MS, one of the most shocking things I learnt was that people are usually diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. This is the most surprising because whenever I tell someone about my diagnosis, they are always so surprised, mainly because of my age!

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I have found that we live in a society where people know what MS is or know someone with it, but in my experience, people only know older people that have it. So when I tell them, the most common response is 'I'm so sorry, you're so young to have it'. Why are you sorry? That's what I want to say to them! As films and TV programmes only portray older people who are more advanced in their MS and therefore only demonstrate the negative impacts of MS, not the day-to-day lifestyle (which is no different from all my friends). Yes, we have relapses, yes we sometimes don't recover; however, it is not always as negative as what people think. MS does not need to control your life; you learn to live with it, so go out enjoy yourself!

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Something needs to change to make people not as worried when they are diagnosed. By writing this blog, I hope I have demonstrated to young people who are newly diagnosed that it's not all bad! I do everything my friends do. I've been travelling (many times), have a full-time job, just finished my Bachelor of Arts degree with a first! Medication has come a long way. It will continue to develop until (hopefully) there is a cure or a more successful treatment that will stop the relapses and the level of disability. But until then, stay positive, stay healthy and most importantly, ENJOY YOUR LIFE!

About the author

@chloekimberley

Hi, I am Chloe; I’m 24 years old and was diagnosed at 22 years old with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. I am travelling a obsessed Gen Z (before COVID), who writes about the positives of MS and how to overcome challenges you might face!