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  • Writer's picturelindsayireland

Untidy Times

Life is messy. This I know.


I have felt so bogged by “messiness” this year that I haven’t been able to write, or even read a book, but two famous strangers helped me refocus.


Actresses Christina Applegate and Jamie-Lynn Sigler just launched a podcast entitled MeSsy, and it inspired me.


Both women have MS, are seasoned entertainers and are refreshingly honest. Christina is newly diagnosed and “Jamie” (I feel like I know her after listening to one episode) has been living with the disease for about as long as I have, 20ish years.


Yesterday, I listened to their first episode in the gym. It’s not easy to get myself there, physically or mentally; my legs have been giving me trouble for well over a year. Podcasts help me forget about the struggle.


Although different in their approaches to handling their MS, right away, I felt akin to both women.


Christina shares her anger and sadness freely and openly acknowledges MS sucks. She is still processing the hard truth that she will be living with this unpredictable disease, forever. I wanted to give her a hug.


Twenty years in, Jamie has found some gratitude in her journey with MS.  I have too, but an MRI just revealed two new lesions on my spine. It explains my weak legs and the need for a cane when I have to stand for long periods. It’s been hard to process my new normal. If we weren’t moving countries (exhausting!), I would like to disappear under the covers and watch Netflix for a few days. Christina openly admits this is how she sometimes copes.


As I listened to Jamie’s sage advice about setting boundaries and the pitfalls of self-doubt and secrecy, I was reminded off all how long it took me to the learn these lessons. Saying “no” to things and asking for help is no longer an option. MS has forced my hand. There is a gift to be found there.


Jamie kept her MS diagnosis a secret for years. She was scared of how others would react. I could relate. It took my MS diagnosis to be open about my ostomy. Secrecy had made me feel disconnected from others for years. Ironically, I had always been afraid of being perceived as messy or dirty. I knew I wouldn’t approach MS the same way. I was not ashamed of my diagnosis. I have tried to power through my weak legs, but not out of shame, out of hope that I could. In the past, that worked. This is new territory and I feel vulnerable.


My health issues have always been invisible illnesses, but if my walking becomes more laboured this won’t be the case. Having to see my limitations will make some people uncomfortable. I can’t worry about that. Christina agrees.


It’s very easy to feel alone with disease and, yesterday it felt like the show was made for me. I laughed, cried and felt heard. Two strangers made me feel part of a sisterhood that understands.


I may keep a tidy house, but I’m not afraid to say that life is messy.


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