Posted by: sistermom1 | November 29, 2012

I am Not My Illness

I have been blessed to encounter some tremendously helpful books — especially lately.  Currently, I am reading a book by Linda Noble Topf – You Are Not Your Illness — Seven Principles for Meeting the Challenge.  It is a true case of meeting the right book at exactly the right time.  (Deepak Chopra writes about “synchrodestiny” – when the universe puts exactly what you need directly in your path, and you pay attention to it.  I definitely agree with this idea!)  Ms. Topf was diagnosed with MS, and she has written a book that has definitely touched many areas that I have struggled with since my own diagnosis.

An example: “When most of us are first diagnosed…all our worst fears and prejudices about what it means to be ‘handicapped’ come crashing down around us. For a while, we may very well see ourselves as helpless victims, doomed to live as shadows of our former selves.  We may get angry or deny what is happening to us. But whatever our reaction, we are certain to bump up against our own beliefs about what it means to be ill. Most people are very surprised by this, because until now those perceptions of what it means to be physically challenged had seemed to apply to other people. Even attitudes that once seemed benevolent toward people who are handicapped – for example, pity – can have serious ramifications when we find ourselves on the receiving end. We suddenly discover that being pitied can make us feel invisible or unworthy – not the equal of the person doing the pitying.”

Reading this was like a big whack in the back of my head.  It echoed the feelings that I experience every time I meet someone new, or even see some of my wonderful sisterfriends.  I hate being what brings the look that feels like sadness or sorrow on some of the faces of my close friends.  I hate bringing that look out in the faces of many of my close family members — even my mother, who looks at me like she wishes she could change places with me (which as a mother myself, I can definitely understand!).  They can’t help how they may feel, and much of it may even be me projecting my own feelings onto the movie screen of my life.  This is something Topf calls “A Short Course on Perception and Projection” later in the book.  She writes “To successfully navigate any big changes in our lives, we must go through a process of first trusting our projections.  As we see that they don’t completely match the new way of life we’ve stepped into, we must slowly let go of our old projections and allow ourselves to experience the new reality.  It’s never an easy process..The good news is that we need not be prisoners of our own projections and perceptions…When we know the power of our projections, we can go in, edit our films, and create award-winning, five-star movies that will serve us better.”

I am remembering that despite feeling overwhelmed at times by my current situation, I am not my illness.  I am coming to the understanding that MS is here to teach me something that would be impossible for me to learn in any other way.  I am learning to sit quietly with it and let the lessons bubble up for me to consider, even to embrace and move forward with.  I will write later about what I am blessed to be learning through Dr. Terry Wahls’ experience with her diagnosis of MS.  Using these lessons is moving me towards 2013 with a new energy and a new focus.  Here’s to a happy and victorious New Year!



  1. Now, you can understand, how much I dislike hearing acquaintances, friends and family saying,: ” but you don’t look like you have M.S.”, for little did they know!!!!

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