Living with MS: A Journey of Resilience and Hope

Collaborative Blog between NEO Walk founder Lyndsay Watterson and Multiple
Sclerosis Advocate and Speaker Brittany Quiroz “A Hot MS”

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is not an easy path to walk, but it is a journey filled with
incredible strength, resilience, and hope. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the
central nervous system, causing various physical and cognitive symptoms. While it can present
challenges, it is important to acknowledge that life with MS is not defined solely by the disease.
Instead, it is an opportunity to discover one’s inner strength and adapt to a new way of living.

“It’s easy to feel we need to flee from our greatest obstacles in life. It’s not standard practice to
run head first onto the battle front, yielding our sword and declaring our persecution of victory.
When you’re in the midst of a war within the confines of your own body, you become less
hesitant to allow yourself to be overthrown.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Being diagnosed with MS can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. The initial shock, fear,
and uncertainty can consume every aspect of life. However, it is crucial to remember that MS
does not define who you are as a person. You are still the same individual with dreams, goals,
and aspirations.

“The diagnostic process of multiple sclerosis still has a lot of work ahead of it. So many of us
find ourselves in a grief period following our diagnosis. We are saying goodbye to a body we
thought we knew and understood and are abruptly introduced to someone entirely new and
strange. I, myself, am diligently working to make grief counseling a standard protocol that is
offered to patients during the diagnostic process of MS.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Living with MS often means adapting to a new normal. Symptoms can fluctuate, and it is
important to listen to your body and prioritize self-care. Rest and pacing activities become
essential, as pushing yourself too hard can result in exacerbating symptoms. It is crucial to find
a balance that allows you to live your life while taking care of your physical and emotional

“I have found a new discovery in listening to how my body communicates with me. The more I’m
able to pay attention to the physical cues I’m being given, the more effectively I can navigate
around the next catastrophe. It’s so easy to look at the changes our bodies are making and say
[this is hard]. I think there is so much more value in changing perspective and shifting from [this
is hard] to [this is new]. Mindset is key.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Support systems play a vital role in the MS journey. Friends, family, and support groups can
provide invaluable emotional support, understanding, and empathy. Connecting with others who
share similar experiences can be empowering. Online communities and local support groups

can offer a safe space to share frustrations, ask questions, and find solace in knowing you are
not alone.

“You must find your tribe! Not everyone is blessed with a strong and dependable support
system. Finding others within the MS community that you can relate to allows you to build your
very own custom hand designed support team. Get creative! Maybe in person support groups
aren’t for you. There are so many avenues to explore for support. From books and literature, to
social media groups and even meeting with local MSrs in your area for a cup of coffee. It takes
courage to step outside of your comfort zone. Growth never shows up when you’re
comfortable.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Living with MS also requires a shift in mindset. Instead of focusing on what you can no longer
do, it is important to embrace what you can do. MS may limit certain physical abilities, but it
cannot take away your resilience, determination, and creativity. Discovering new hobbies,
exploring adaptive technologies, and finding alternative ways to pursue your passions can bring
immense joy and fulfillment.

“We undervalue the power of perception. Personally, I am fundamentally and molecularly
predisposed to the effects of depression. I’ve been there; years prior to my diagnosis as I was a
victim of severe trauma and domestic violence. It was dark, painful and took every bit of
strength and faith I had to claw my way out. Now that I’ve experienced first hand where my mind
can go if I allow myself to, I stay determined to never spiral down the rabbit hole because of this
disease. Sure, I have my rough days but I never sit in them too long. I am grateful for everything
MS has taught me and feel my life has been transformed for good because of it. One can not
house solid optimism without gratitude.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Taking care of your mental health is equally important when living with MS. The emotional toll of
living with a chronic illness can be significant, and seeking professional help, such as therapy or
counseling, can provide valuable tools to cope with the emotional challenges that arise.
Developing a positive mindset, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in activities that bring joy
and peace can contribute to overall well-being.

“We put so much pressure on ourselves to hold it all together. We put on a happy face and push
through. It’s okay to feel the feelings. We are constantly praising ourselves for the victories in
life. The raise, the purchase of our home, a new life being born. It all receives the celebration
and recognition it so rightfully deserves. But what about the disasters in life? Nobody likes to
talk about the most challenging parts of themselves, let alone brag about what they fail at. The
victories get enough attention. So let’s start celebrating the disasters. Embrace your mess.
Break down the proverbial wall.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Living with MS is not easy, and there will be days when everything feels overwhelming.
However, it is essential to hold onto hope. Medical advancements are constantly being made,
and new treatments and therapies are being developed. By staying informed and working
closely with your healthcare team, you can actively participate in your own care and treatment.

“Up until my diagnosis in 2019 I had very few health concerns. I quickly learned that the only
way to smoothly and effectively operate in a body so foreign to me was to run my health like a
business. I have a fantastic working relationship with my neurologist and his staff. Being a part
of major decisions like treatment options with my medical team allows me the opportunity to feel
more in control of my disease. There’s so much uncertainty with MS. Being more hands on with
the management of my MS puts me in the driver seat. We all just want to feel more confident.”
says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Living with MS is a journey of resilience, strength, and hope. While it may present challenges, it
also provides an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and a deeper appreciation for
the small joys in life. By embracing your inner strength, seeking support, and focusing on what
you can do, you can navigate the MS journey with resilience and hope. Remember, you are not
defined by your diagnosis, but by the incredible person you are.

“We are each blessed with a life and our time here is accelerated, exquisite and valuable. We
each hold the power to take all of what was designed to break us and transform it into the very
thing that fuels intrepidity and creates a space for us to become the best version of ourselves.
We all deserve this.” says Quiroz of A Hot MS

Britt Quiroz @ahotms