Charleigh Victory on living with MS
This article was first published in May 2020.
Lifestyle blogger Charleigh Victory's world was turned upside down when at just 22 years old, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable autoimmune condition that affects the brain, spinal cord and nerves, but can affect different people in different ways. "I first started experiencing symptoms way long before I was diagnosed." says Charleigh. Describing her symptoms Charleigh explains, "One day I woke up and I just couldn't see out of my left eye... And then whilst I was waiting for my MRI results, that's when I started to experience more symptoms. I remember waking up for work and I couldn't move my arms... my neurologist sat me down, showed me my brain MRI scan and all I saw was these white splodges on my brain." It was then that Charleigh was told that her life was going to change forever, "I remember feeling so lost and just so scared."
Smile as often as you can, laugh as much as you can and speak your truth.
Now 25, Charleigh has her own lifestyle blog where she also writes about having a chronic illness. "What I would like people to know about MS is although some people use walking aids and wheelchairs... more often than not MS patients do not have any visible symptoms at all. You wouldn't know by looking at me that I had this chronic condition, but people like me are the face of MS." Since her diagnosis, Charleigh has accomplished a lot despite the difficulties that living with a chronic condition throws up, she says, "Over the last three years I have accomplished, but definitely battled a lot of things due to this illness."
If you have been newly diagnosed with MS, or have had the condition for some time, then Charleigh has some words of wisdom for you, "Keep on going, ride the wave, there's gonna be highs, there's gonna be lows, you're gonna be angry, you're gonna be sad, but you're also going to be happy... Smile as often as you can, laugh as much as you can and speak your truth."
If you need support
You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.
If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.