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Meet - Bri Pearson

Illinois, USA

When were you diagnosed with MS? August 2021

What type of MS do you have? Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)

#1: Can you tell us a little about your journey with MS. How did you feel about your initial diagnosis and how it has affected your life?


Compared to many others, I was diagnosed pretty fast. I woke up one day and I couldn't see out of my left eye (optic neuritis) and I was promptly admitted to the hospital. While I waited for my lab results and to see the MS specialist, I lost the feeling on the left side of my body, which led to another hospitalization and eventually, I was diagnosed with MS. I was devastated.


Fast forward to more than a year later, I have had too many ups and downs to count. However, I am in a much better head space now and focused on living well with MS.


#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?


I struggle with chronic fatigue, depression, numbness and tingling, and nerve pain. I am on a number of supplements, an antidepressant that helps with fatigue, as well as a nerve medication. I am currently on Ocrevus after doing a year on Tysabri.


#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?


My family has been an incredible source of support, particularly my husband who has been my ROCK from the beginning. He is the one I vent and cry to the most. He provides me with a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, and a voice of reason when I tend to head down the rabbit hole and overthink things.


In addition to my spouse, my father, brothers, sisters-in-law, and closest friends have also been incredibly supportive. I am so beyond blessed to have each of them in my corner. Always pushing me to be positive and showing up for me, even when I think I don't need it!


I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have them all in my corner, and I know I would be lost without them.


#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?


NO.



#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?

My kids keep me motivated to stay positive and I do everything I can to be ok, while still remaining active in their everyday lives. My Mom was sick when I was a kid and it changed our family a lot. I ended up losing her to kidney failure when I was 17 years old. One of my biggest fears is having to alter my kid's lives because of MS. This is something that is obviously out of my control, but it also gives me the motivation and strength to keep moving forward and deal with this head-on.


Self-care for me looks like this:

* Giving myself grace;

* Going to therapy consistently;

* Exercising when I feel up to it (huge work in progress);

* Eating clean; and

* Spending time with family and friends.


#6: Your story and experiences with MS are incredibly valuable and can provide encouragement and motivation to others in the community. What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with MS or going through a challenging time right now?



Find your community! After I was diagnosed, I was having such a hard time coping during my first year. Finding a community that I could connect with gave me a sense of validation and hope that I desperately needed. I didn't feel so alone! Find your faith and hold onto it! Whatever, that looks like for you. I journal a lot now. Whether I am writing to God, myself, or just a bunch of words, I make sure to write what I am feeling. Remember....you will be ok!


#7: Have you started a business or mission related to MS? Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to take this step?


A few months ago, I decided to convert my Instagram page to a personal blog to document and share my journey. The good, bad, and the in-between. My hope is to promote self-advocacy, spread awareness, and let people on this journey know they are not alone.


Even in the beginning, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was happening for a reason. Like God was putting me on this path to help make a difference. I just wasn't emotionally ready. I came across a blog very early on of a woman sharing her journey with MS. I remember laying in bed crying because it gave me some type of hope and a positive outlook when I was scared my life was over.


Fast forward to a year later, with a lot of ups and downs. I came across an organization for black women with MS, called We Are ILL. I attended their wellness weekend alongside my best friend and it absolutely changed my life. The weekend was filled with laughter, educational sessions, tears, and genuine bonding! That's when I realized how impactful finding community could be!


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