By the time I write this I will have been disabled from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities for four years (almost to the minute). I have had MCS for decades longer than that but four years ago was the minute my body gave out and no matter how much I needed a paycheck and insurance, no matter how much I loved to teach — it was all gone.
It would be easy to look back and see how little things have changed: companies still legally making billions selling toxic substances, still can’t walk into a school in my district due to the high levels of fragrances in the air, no longer hear from 99.99 percent of the people who were my colleagues and friends, the itching of hives still drives me nuts….
If I was to go back and focus on all the things that have not changed today — all the things that I perceive as wrong — all the things that other human beings have “done” to me that have caused me pain — there would be little chance that I’d want to be here four years from now.
So all though this post is for anyone who needs it — I especially dedicate it to my MCS sisters and brothers.
“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”
We live in a world of duality. Anything in this physical world can be taken away and given back again. Jobs lost and gained. Health improving only to become sickened again. Friends lost and new friends gained. No matter — “This too shall pass.”
When I was first disabled, I definitely judged MCS as a bad, no a really bad thing. I have to admit if I had a chance to ditch this disability I would in a heartbeat. But it has taught me that if I fixate on judging this as unequivocally bad, I will miss the good in my life. If MCS were eliminated from my life would I now be entirely happy with my life? I’m not that naive anymore. If I haven’t stopped judging things then I will just find something else that needs to be fixed and to feel bad about. This doesn’t mean others have the right to deliberating harm me. It just means that if I spend all my time and energy being angry about how unjustly I have been treated — I will be doomed to be unhappy for the rest of my life.
NO ONE CAN MAKE ME FEEL INVISIBLE UNLESS I LET THEM
MCS is called an invisible illness because of the many symptoms that mostly can not be seen. You can’t see my migraine, my throat closing off, my extreme fatigue…. Because I need air free of toxic chemicals and because virtually no place exists where I can breathe clean air — I am isolated from people most of the time. During this time of isolation, I realized I am rarely “alone”. The amount of thoughts that flit through my mind is staggering. It has taken a lot of practice and awareness to change those thoughts to more uplifting ones. I still need a lot more practice but I feel more visible now than I did when I worked with 1300 people.
THE GIFTS OF MCS
For those without MCS but who have cancer or arthritis or migraines… find the gifts in those things. I picked up a camera to give me something to do after I lost my job. I never knew and never would have known if it wasn’t for MCS that I love nature photography . The last photo show I entered, I won two seconds, a first and a viewer’s choice ribbon. I don’t tell you this for praise. I tell you this so that you can see that sometimes losing something frees you up to find a gift you didn’t know you had. I go on wonderful, beautiful nature walks all of the time. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I’ve met all of you wonderful people who visit this blog. I found a new way to be visible by writing this blog. I’ve learned I can’t give what I don’t have — this means I need to make my health a priority, surround myself with loving people, accept I deserve to be loved…
It takes time to grieve the life you lost — to release the dreamed of future that will no longer manifest — but if you’re willing to surrender the old life — forgive unjustified suffering that was heaped at your doorstep — peace and love and friendships are waiting to be embraced. I thank all of you who have given up toxic fragrances and cleaning supplies, who have sent your love and support when I needed it most, thanks for the laughs and sharing the soap box so that others will not need to suffer as we have. Peace.