With their permission, and anonymity, here’s what we talked about:
To begin with, I answered their questions about the practicalities of MS – the drugs, the DVLA, etc.
All well and good but it was clear that this person was struggling and trying to put a brave face on it. Like many of us, they had never faced such a seismic shift in their health and the impact it could have on everything in their life.
We talked some more, but it felt a bit ‘woolly’. Unusually, I had a minor brainwave, and thought about my current reflective essay for Uni. How could we harness this and develop a new plan, a reconsidered way of living, alongside reflecting upon and coming to terms with the diagnosis?
The reflective model I use is deceptively simple – What? So What? Now What?
What? – what’s happened? How did you get to this point and what has happened along the way?
So What? – what will happen as a consequence? What will change/stay the same? Which areas have been impacted the most?
Now What? – what can we do next? How can we adjust and adapt to what’s happened? What will the future look like?
As a (very) brief example to ensure anonymity, here’s mine:
What? – rapidly-evolving MS, constant relapses, diagnosis and swift decision needed regarding treatment. Partner leaves, the meanie.
So What? – bullied at work due to diagnosis, sacked, legal case, drastic change in health, need to find new job. Abandoned by some friends.
Now What? – make sure The Teenager is ok. Work out what I really want to do, i.e. write. Learn WordPress and start blog. Find new job which will fit in to new lifestyle.
The beauty of this is that it allows you to empty everything onto a large sheet of paper, with just a few coloured Sharpies. The ability to pour out everything, all those niggles that float around at night and all those fears is truly cathartic. I wish I had done it back then; life may have been a lot simpler.
And, why stop there? It’s a great way of keeping up to date with yourself. Say, if you do this every year or so and keep your old reflections, it’s a fantastic way to see how far you’ve come. When I wrote my current one out last week, it seemed quite remarkable how much my life had changed, the majority of it for the better. Try it, you may just be surprised…