The Fear

By Chernise Joseph

Since it’s the spookiest of months, let me get right to the point: MS has taught me how to be afraid. To be very, very afraid.  As big and as intimidating as that word can truly be, I don’t want it to come across as multiple sclerosis has simply scared me away from living as that isn’t the case at all–if anything it’s the exact opposite.

Multiple sclerosis is a funny thing, especially the sort I have. I can go weeks, months, even years, without any relapses, but the threat of them still lurks over my head like a storm cloud. What if I overdo it today and trigger a relapse? What if the weather is simply weather-y and I’m in relapse-land? What if, what if, what if.. That is what scares me the most about MS. The what ifs.

Here is some reconciliation about that, though. I have come to terms with the storm cloud and, instead of trying to make it go away, I have learned how to morph that fear into a challenge. I once read somewhere that nervousness and excitement are the same depending on how you interpret them.  It’s the same reason we love haunted houses or a good, spooky movie–it excites us. Maybe it isn’t the same excitement you would feel after catching a game-winning pitch or saying that fateful ‘yes’ to someone, but they are all related. The rush is there. The relief. The disbelief. Even the happiness (though perhaps that comes after all the scary stuff is done).

The strength of having MS comes from that ability. It’s very easy to be afraid of this disease as it is so unpredictable, but learning how to take that fear and use it for the better has become a superpower for me. It has also shown me the world through new eyes (quite literally thanks to a bout of optic neuritis). I have a friend who had cancer and she said after she finished all of her treatments, there was so much in life that she stopped taking it for granted. It was strange to know exactly what she meant, but it was true. I am thankful every day for everything I have and all the things I want as they give me a bright future to look forward to–fearful or not. Even the ability to just hug a loved one has become so precious to me. MS has taught me that fear comes along with this disease, it is just as inevitable as it is with any illness. The future goes from somewhat certain to a poker game–but you don’t know how to play poker. That’s okay, though. I’m in Texas and I’m sure somebody will teach me how to hold ‘em eventually.

I love Halloween. In fact, I love it so much that I dedicate my entire October to it. It’s a time where yes, you can be creepy or funny or whatever you like, but it’s also a time where everyone is experiencing that nervousness and excitement and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. I get the chance to watch everyone use their superpower as we all have it, multiple sclerosis just pushes it out of people all twelve months out of the year. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful, creepy, candy-filled month and please enjoy Queen Cleocatra’s Halloween costume. She’s going as an adorable kitty cat.

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The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit or call (800) 532-7667.

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