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How an MS diagnosis helped me find my creative side

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Carole has been living with MS for 15 years. She tells us how channelling her creative side has helped her “see the good in things again."

My name is Carole. I'm a single parent, an ex-Primary School teacher, and I've had MS for about 15 years.

My life is very different now to how it was before the MS, when I was quite active, did loads of things and went out a lot.  The fatigue, balance and mobility problems, as well as depression, have put paid to that.

So I've had to adapt my lifestyle and I have completely changed what I do.

Two of the things that I do now are writing and art classes.  I had never done anything like that before, mainly because a teacher at school told me never to do it because I was so hopeless. But now I love it!  I tend to use a lot of colour and pattern in my art, and I especially love printing. With my writing, I usually write about things around me, and also my health and well-being.

"I can do them when I'm feeling well but also they help me when I'm not feeling so good"

Both of these help me a lot.  I can do them on my own or with others, they aren't expensive (especially important since I had to retire from work early on ill-health grounds, so am now on benefits), I can do them when I'm feeling well but also they help me when I'm not feeling so good.  They can be a great distraction and take my mind off things, and they can also help me to think things through and make sense of them.  I love being creative and it's great seeing things come to life.

I can write or paint without other people seeing.  Sometimes I'm fine letting others see my work, at other times they are just for me.  I can get things off my chest.  Let's face it, having something painful and unpredictable like MS can be really difficult and challenging but it really helps me to write down my worries, and I can explore both positive and negative feelings.  It also helps other people to understand what I'm going through.  Somehow it is easier to write it or draw it than to speak about it.  It can also make those invisible symptoms of MS more real to others, so they can understand more.

Doing all of this has helped me to see the good in things again and to start to move on and begin to let go, to climb out of that deep dark pit.

I can even sometimes write or draw a new and better ending for myself!

Carole's poem


I am almost 
T   o   o      w   e   a   r   y
To write this
Or even to think.

The overwhelming fatigue
So dreaded and cruel
Has descended again
Taking over my body once more
Just coming out of nowhere

Out of the shadows
And striking me down yet again
Like a massive wave.

I feel I am wading 
Through thick, dark, viscous treacle
Or struggling to swim across 
A fast-flowing reed-filled river
Yet getting nowhere

Confused and in a daze
With my brain full of fog
My entire body 
Is crying out in pain
Even down to my fingernails 
And to the ends of my hair.

Every ounce of precious energy
Has been drained out of me
As I'm being dragged down 
Into the bottomless quicksand
With massive weights 
Attached to my feet.

Please, turn the noise off
Shut out the light

And let me 
Just lay here
Stay here
Not talking
Not even thinking
For days or for ever
And then still some more

Until it slowly passes.


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