Meet Amanda

What year and age were you diagnosed with MS?
I was diagnosed at 25 years old after three years of medical investigation.

How long ago did you start experiencing MS related symptoms?
I had my first relapse at 23.

What were some of the symptoms?
I was chronically fatigued and I experienced electric shock like feeling from my brain down my spine My first relapse was Optic Neuritis in my right eye. I lost complete vision for a short period.I honestly thought I was going crazy, all these weird things happening to my body that no one could explain.

What was your reaction when you were diagnosed?
 I was 24 when this happened and I will never forget that day. In the afternoon I drove myself to a lookout and sobbed by myself, not knowing what to do with the information given to me, the sunset over the ocean was so incredibly beautiful and I decided I needed to document this moment as I will look back and see how far I had come from the helpless 24 year old who’s life plans and hopes had been pulled out from underneath her. (I have attached a self-portrait drawing that I did from a photo I took of myself the day I found out, this was also the beginning of my Art Journey).

Amanda’s day of diagnosis self portrait

Has MS stopped you doing thing that you used to?
I would be lying if I said that Multiple Sclerosis hadn’t stopped me from doing things that I use to. I was in my early twenties, my partying years were over before I knew it. The biggest impact it had was on my career in Human Resources, I was a Workforce Planner in the mining industry and it was an incredibly high paced and highly stressful role which I loved, however I was no longer able to deal with the stressful scenarios the job threw at me.

But MS has given me the opportunity to pursue what I enjoy most, Art. If I hadn’t got MS I would of never been able to study Art and for that I am thankful. MS has given me the opportunity to slow down to think and reassess what is important to me and what do I want to achieve in my life.  I am lucky that my partner Anthony is supportive of my aspirations, I couldn’t follow my dreams of being an Artist without his support.

Has MS Queensland helped you during your MS journey?

Immensely.

What has that support meant to you?
They have been with me on this difficult journey from the very first day. The reassuring person on the end of the phone telling me everything is going to be ok and gave me information on the disease and Neurologist information. MS Queensland flew a MS Nurse to Mackay from Brisbane on two occasions to show me how to use my injectable medication, I go to many of their seminars and workshops and call them regularly. People with MS in Queensland are so fortunate to have an organisation as MS Queensland supporting them through their entire journey with Multiple Sclerosis and I am very happy to be raising money and giving back to them so they can continue their excellent work.

What else would you like to share about your MS journey.
One important thing I have learnt about Multiple Sclerosis is that there is no right or wrong way of dealing with diagnosis. There is only your way and no one should tell you how to heal, everyone in the early diagnosis years needs to know that what they are doing to deal with the news is perfectly fine. We all heal in our own unique way.