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How A Blog, A Book + A Stroppy Teenager Helped One Mother Thrive With MS

Without my teenager, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now.

MS crashed unexpectedly into our lives in 2011 – a destructive meteor. Neither of us were prepared and life as we knew it disappeared as the sun set and I lay on a hospital bed contemplating the future, if I even had one.

When the smoke of the impact cleared, we squabbled, we fought, we cried. He stropped and slammed his bedroom door so often the hinges weakened and fell off one day, the same day his X-Box died.

In crisis, we were magnificent. In private, I wept and fought against the injustice. His childhood dissolved before me and I was powerless to prevent it.

We joked – the first lesion wiped out my speech, leaving me with a strange Germanic/English dialect. The Teenager dined out on imitations of me for months afterwards, shoving verbs to the end of sentences and conjuring up nonsensical words.

I cried when he cried and when he went to bed I cried some more. I lost myself in a haze of self-pity.

Yet always, in the background but so important to me was my blog, an attempt to make sense of what was happening. I had so much to say and nowhere to say it. I spilled myself into words, saying what I couldn’t tell people.

The frustrations of eyeliner, high heels, dating, tripping over my feet. The everyday agony of Valentine’s Day Singeldom. The should I, shouldn’t I date. The challenges of bringing up a son amidst the wreckage of my life.

I cleaned his rugby boots, helped with the homework, signed forms, ferried him here and there. Life went on.

The blog. My saviour. I worried, at first, if I was being too honest. But that’s me. I don’t hide behind words, I stand in front of them. This is me.

My life went viral – people in over 100 countries were reading my blog and this gave me strength. I woke up. I thought about what I really wanted to do, and what I really wanted to do was write, so I wrote and wrote and wrote. I turned my blog in to a book and then I thought, I’ll go back to University and take a Masters in writing.

So I’m still writing and working out my dissertation. I’m thinking about taking a PhD. I’ve won awards, I’ve been to 10 Downing Street and I’ve mixed with the rich and famous, all thanks to my blog and The Teenager.

MS has made me braver than I ever thought possible. When the worst has already happened, what is there to lose? If MS has taught me anything, it is to treasure every day. Every single day I can survive the nerve pain, the foot drop, the cog fog and the dodgy hands, I am a step closer to acceptance. And always, always, there are my two mainstays – my son, and my blog.

This is a guest post by Barbara Stensland, blogger and author behind the MS blog Stumbling With Flats. She likes in the UK with her teenage son, The Teenager.

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