Around my 25th birthday, I drank a whole lot of different-flavoured vodkas in a smart Polish restaurant in West London, feeling very sophisticated.
A few years previously I’d celebrated by necking vodka from the bottle on the roof of a small-town railway station somewhere in Poland, and I felt free and full of excitement about the wide-open future.
Now I’m approaching my 45th birthday, I will no doubt be tucked up in bed by 9pm with a glass of water on my bedside table and a lopsided party hat on my head.
But, looking at it positively, I’m (perhaps) still only halfway there? At 25, I was halfway to 50. Now I’m halfway to 90. Not a bad age and a decent one at which to bow out.
Casting a beady eye over the past, it’s easy for me to see this life as a series of fabulous adventures, terrible dead ends and a whole load of missed opportunities, like one of those infuriating tiny, plastic maze games we had as kids, with a little silver ball we had to angle and guide into its final slot.
So was MS a wake-up call despite its terrible ramifications?
Physically, yes. I transformed overnight from a somewhat harassed single-parent with a job that fitted around school hours to someone who was quite literally on the floor.
I was planning and studying for a path to career enhancement, once The Teenager was safely ensconced in high school and life would become a little easier.
Tiredness back then was a long day in work followed by all the child-centred tasks after work. And repeat.
I really, really didn’t know anything about tiredness.
Mentally, MS was akin to being punched in the gut, over and over again. But, like they say, when you’re in the gutter, you’re still looking up at the stars.
When you go back to zero, the only way is up.
I liked writing as a kid and thought there was nothing to lose by trying it again. Six years later, I’m about to start a PhD in Creative Writing. Weird, huh? And all thanks to me venting my MS frustrations all those years ago.
I’m no academic, just a person who is passionate about writing the truth. My studies will focus on the MS ‘it’s all in your mind’ scenario that happens to so many of us, including me.