Dawn McManus: Graphic Artist
After nearly three years at my kitchen table I am thrilled to be seeking publication of my first book, Born Together. I hope to bring it to you very soon. I have loved every inspiring minute of reading, writing, researching and editing. There have been no beginnings or endings to my days. The thinking, planning and creating have had no boundaries, day or night. One day has rolled happily into the next as I poured my journey, emotions and dreams on to each page. Born Together shares the unique voyage of how Multiple Sclerosis entered my life at the same time as motherhood. More than that it shares my impacting, yet ordinary, self- help programme which runs steadfastly parallel to my spiritual journey. I rejected the traditional medical model on offer, in favour of an independent route. Diet and lifestyle have led the way alongside many other wonderful contributions. I will share them all.
We can all do ordinary things to help us live an extraordinary life, with or without Multiple Sclerosis.
From the Classroom to the Kitchen Table (Part 2)
It wasn’t long before the demands of teaching outweighed the demands of Multiple Sclerosis. Retired before my 40th birthday, I had a long stretch in front of me. No earning potential and what felt like no more aspirations or personal possibilities. But I was a mum to Elliot. That surely filled up my cup until it was overflowing. I had my self-help journey running alongside and so I was destined to be busy enough and fulfilled in an entirely refreshing way.
Time passed and Elliot grew up. By the time he started school, I was ready to bring something new in to my life. I’ve always been one of those really annoying energetic people! Despite MS doing its best to change that, I refused to give in and my mind demanded something to do! Having always loved writing and harboured a dream to actually sit down and do so, the opportunity was staring at me. Elliot was at school all day. I don’t do day time television. Cooking and cleaning deserve only minimal attention. Time for the next chapter to begin.
I took to my laptop. I set up in my kitchen. I wrote day in and day out. I edited for a lot of that time. And I mean a lot! I read, I researched, I wrote, I loved it. I ended up in that desk job after all! It’d been quite a voyage from the classroom to the kitchen table. But life has a habit of changing direction when you least expect it. Best thing to do is accept your new direction and see what you can turn that in to. That won’t happen straight away. It’s a long and winding process, but the sooner you start the sooner you will find peace with yourself again. You may even find new opportunities. New friendships. New perspectives. It can be the beginning of a new and fulfilled future, not an ending.
Life at my kitchen table is super wonderful. I would have recoiled in horror if it had been suggested as a way of life before. Now I have to drag myself away. The writing process is kind to me and oh so special in my world now. It is as though my journey was always leading me here. To my kitchen table.
I was in my early twenties when I resigned from my office job in the Civil Service. I left to study to become a primary school teacher, figuring that sitting behind a desk all day wasn’t for me!
Little did I know what was to come. I had a super career, enjoying the absolutely splendid kids that I was lucky enough to share the journey with. Teaching and living in London, Barcelona and eventually home, in my 30’s, to Glasgow.
So far, so good. The next part really was the happy ending. Fall in love with Allan and make the monumental decision that after many years of travelling and adventure I would settle down and have children. I had left it a bit late as my 30’s were whizzing past me. Late nights and partying were not easy to say goodbye to. But the time was now or never and we made it just in time, having the super fabulous Elliot! I was 38 years old and so excited. It was the beginning of a new and sensationally anticipated chapter. I had so much energy all of the time and how wonderful it would be to share it with my own bouncing baby boy.
That’s where the story changed forever. Enter Multiple Sclerosis. My immune system had attacked itself in error during the afterbirth process. My fairy tale story had turned rapidly into a dimmed dream. I still had the joys of my baby boy, but running parallel now with this giant of a disease and all that it brought with it. It was an unimaginable juxtaposition of emotions and practicalities. A very different story it would be. But one still full of all the screeching highs and uncomfortable lows that come with life itself.
It was the 4th January 2007 when life changed forever. I was already living with the signs and symptoms of extreme ill health. Since the birth of my baby boy the year before I had struggled to cope. We all hoped and tried our very best to believe that it was surely related to my difficult pregnancy, long traumatic labour and delivery by emergency caesarean section. We tried desperately to convince ourselves that I would somehow, some way recover one day. That was not to be.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my life has taken a very different route ever since that day of diagnosis.