“You Have a Great Story” by Anita

“You have a great story” the neurologist said to me as she signed a copy of her book….

On the way back on the subway, I thought about it… “Yes I suppose I do… wait. I do!” I suddenly felt a surge of emotion and pride, positivity ran through me, I made it through, I am a story of hope.

Almost three years ago, my life changed, one day I was just living a normal busy life, the next I couldn’t walk. After a particularly stressful morning, I was walking to class when the next thing I knew I was looking at the floor, I was confused and distressed, but I got up to carry on, again there was the floor. Each time I stood, my legs were shaking. It was then that I began to realize that my legs were buckling each time I put weight on them, that my whole body was going weak , my head was nodding and my eyes were closing and like a puppet on a string I had no control over it. My body was saying “No.”. I was sent home to my family to recover, but unfortunately it wasn’t the end but the beginning of a very long journey.

The next few months, I couldn’t get through a dance class without needing to rest, I couldn’t do lunges or grand plies, and jumps (my favorite part of dance) were out of the question,  I also lost friends due to the lack of understanding of what was going on and chronic fatigue, dizziness and weakness were a daily occurrence. After recurring attacks on a daily basis,  a year later I finally got diagnosed with FND (Functional Neurological Disorder), a disorder where you have neurological symptoms which can be caused by stress. The next two years consisted of a lot of medical appointments, treatment, as well as self-care, such as eating well, sleeping well and stress reducing techniques.

Finally the symptoms started improving and slowly became less and less…

Fast forward to now, and I’m in New York and I have just returned from a talk about the disorder by renowned neurologist “Suzanne O’Sullivan”, at the end I briefly told her about myself, and now I’m starting to realize how far I’ve come.

I have not told this story for sympathy, I have told it for perspective and for hope for other sufferers, it is possible to get better, it is possible to come out the other side, life is changing all the time and it is full of surprises. I never thought that this time a few years ago,  I would be living out my dream studying professional dance in New York City, in fact, there were moments that I thought it wasn’t an option anymore.  My mother always says “there’s a reason why we can’t predict the future”, I think she’s right, in the future there are so many bad and good things that await us, but instead of worrying about the bad, maybe we should be excited for the good.

I still do get occasional attacks/symptoms but I have learnt that what is the point on focusing on that one bad moment in the day when there were 20 other great ones. The symptoms are not dangerous to me, just frustrating/annoying and I have learnt to prioritize the things that really matter: my passion for dance, my goals and what I want to achieve in life.  In some ways the disorder has taught me to put myself first and to look after myself, which many young people don’t learn until later on in life.

Today, I felt the need to write this post because we don’t often get time to step back and see how our journey has changed when we are so caught up in our own stories. I think this time of year is a good time to reflect and then move on.

I don’t see anything wrong with sharing the more broken parts of us, without the bad there is no good, why only show one side to us when we have so many other imperfect parts that make us unique!? We are only human after all. It’s unrealistic to let people believe that our lives are all so put together and perfect, when lets face it… life doesn’t work like that. I feel like we need to be a little more open and support each other a little more.. there are too many lonely people out there and many of us are going through similar struggles.

Now, its time to move on and start focusing on my goals for the future and the incredible life I have now. This story will always be a part of me, but it doesn’t define me and I am so grateful for my family, friends, teachers, this city and of course dance, which, no matter what, will always a part of my life.

Anyway…! I will be posting another blog post soon about my adventures in 2017, however I just felt need to write this post this evening

So…. lets end on a more upbeat note….

Why don’t dogs make good dancers?

Because they have two left feet! 😉

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