Learning to cope is an acquired skill, one that takes several stabs before getting the hang of it.
I still haven’t grasped it entirely. Like my movements on those really off days, my coping strategy is a bit clunky and unrefined.
I just finished back-to-back reading of two memoirs on multiple sclerosis – ‘Fall Down Laughing’ from Squiggy and ‘Blindsided’ by Richard M. Cohen (Mr. Meredith Vieira). I know I’m not alone in my illness, but immersing myself in their worlds for a bit has helped me find some perspective and solace.
I feel a kinship with these people. Their fears are mine. Their struggles, mine too.
How we cope was another similar path, although denial played a much larger part for both of them. Such refusal to accept reality sustained me for only so long before the disease stormed in and took me hostage, piece by piece.
But Cohen, especially, touches a raw nerve when he talks about the emotional side of illness. The anger I feel at a diminished life has no outlet and isn’t constructive.
To cope with MS requires a near-constant course correction. Today my hands are numb. Yesterday, my shot was terrible. I wish I could go sleep for a week, I’m so tired. Roll with the punches, I suppose.
“Coping is a forever an aspiration,” Cohen writes. “Coping evolves.”
He also writes about keeping his head up — literally and figuratively. When you are looking down, only at yourself, you can’t see the damage that has been inflicted on others, or to see that others are there in the first place.
I’m trying to keep my chin up, as Charlotte the spider says. It takes practice.