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Recognising, accepting and adapting – how I manage my journey on Strictly

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Even on days when we’ve been filming for hours on end and it gets to the evening and I’m almost incoherent because my fatigue has set in, the smile has never left my face!

Back in 2015, MS awareness campaigner Trishna Bharadia was on the BBC series People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. In this blog she reflects on what it is like taking part in a big production like this when you have MS.

When I discovered that I’d been chosen to dance in the first ever People’s Strictly for Comic Relief I was first shocked and then ecstatic, as you can probably tell from my reaction at the “Zumba surprise” that was laid on by the BBC. Since that first programme was aired, I’ve had a huge amount of support from everyone, particularly from those within the MS community who have told me they’re delighted that “one of us” has been given the chance to raise awareness on such a large and positive platform.

It is very demanding though, especially dancing a jive, so how have I coped?

Being on the show has been the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. When you’re having this much fun, sometimes you just push through, even when you feel like you’re going to fall over from exhaustion! There’s a lot to be said for staying positive and happy, and even on days when we’ve been filming for hours on end and it gets to the evening and I’m almost incoherent because my fatigue has set in, the smile has never left my face!

It’s been a learning curve for the production crew too. Many of them had never worked with someone with MS before and they quickly started to gauge what my limits were. They made sure they scheduled in adequate rest breaks and tried not to give me too many long filming days in a row. It was frustrating because sometimes I felt like I was missing out on socialising with the others because I had to take a nap or lie down, but I needed to do this to make sure I could give my 100%.

People are probably bored of hearing me going on about just how amazing my dance partner Aljaz Skornajec is! But he really has made so much effort to learn about MS and my unique symptoms. In fact he’s had first hand experience of the unpredictability of the condition; mid-way through the process I had the unfortunate realisation that I may have relapsed for the first time in a few years. Losing the feeling in part of your foot and not knowing how far it will spread is very scary when you’re about to dance in front of the nation! But he’s been incredibly understanding and perceptive, knowing when to take rest breaks and making the most of our weekend sessions when I’m at my most alert because I’ve not had to do a full day of work before we’ve even started!

Finally, no two people with MS are the same and no two days are the same. I’ve emphasised that constantly throughout this journey. It’s all about recognising, accepting and adapting. That’s why I’ve been able to enjoy every single moment of this journey and the smile has never left my face!

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