When Isobel was diagnosed with MS aged just 22, she vowed it would “make me not break me”. Determined to help other young people in a similar situation, she decided to start vlogging about her journey with MS. Over a year later, Izzy’s YouTube channel, Izzy MS (youtube.com/izzyms), has thousands of subscribers and her videos have proved an invaluable source of support for people with MS from all over the world. We caught up with Izzy to find out more.
When were you diagnosed with MS and how have you dealt with your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed shortly after my 22nd birthday, following a six-week stay in hospital where I experienced my first MS attack which paralyzed my left arm and leg. It was a completely terrifying experience – I did not think that at 22 I would be teaching myself to walk again. I was diagnosed with highly active relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis when I was discharged from hospital and I remember crying every day and not sleeping for two weeks. It took me about a year to accept things and feel like myself again.
Do you feel that being diagnosed with MS has changed your outlook on life?
Definitely. During my six weeks in hospital, being unable to walk – I had a lot of spare time on my hands to really think about my life and re-evaluate things. Being 22, my life was focused on feeling stressed about my future and starting a career. However, my life has been flipped from worrying about money and career paths to putting my health at the top. I remember when I was in hospital feeling totally helpless and thought to myself that even the richest person in the world would feel as helpless if they went through what I was going through. I had no control over what was happening to my body and no amount of money could change that. So now I truly understand the term ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’, and focus my thoughts on putting my health at the top of my priorities.
What advice would you give someone who’s just been diagnosed with MS?
Try not to put pressure on yourself. An MS diagnosis is a big, scary diagnosis to have and I think the most important thing you can do is give yourself time to come to terms with it. Surround yourself with people who love you and support you, and be kind to yourself. Time does heal all.
What inspired you to start vlogging about your life with MS?
After my diagnosis I felt very lost and went through a period where I was grieving my life pre-diagnosis. After giving myself enough time to be upset I decided to turn my diagnosis on its head and instead of letting it break me - I wanted it to make me. Whilst I was in hospital, I was desperate to see a younger person talking openly about having MS and I also wanted to see them living their life normally as I had no idea what I could still do with this diagnosis. So I decided to create the videos that would have helped me at the start of my journey in case it would help someone else.
Have you found it therapeutic?
Vlogging my journey with MS so far has been therapeutic as it has forced me to talk about my diagnosis and my time in hospital, both of which were extremely traumatic for me. As a person, I tend to bury my problems and not address them, and so by talking openly about these things in my videos it has helped me to deal with them instead of blocking them out. Plus, all the positive comments and love I get from people who watch my videos have really helped!
What’s the reaction been like to your videos?
Extremely positive. I get lovely messages and comments every day from people thanking me for making my videos, relating to similar things that they have been through, and from people saying how my videos have helped them. I read every single comment I get and they inspire me to keep making videos!
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration(s) are my parents. They have taught me that when things go wrong in life, you cannot give up and you have to keep fighting. They encourage me to go out and live my life and to not let it be defined by my MS diagnosis.
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