Julie Stevens, If I Can’t

As a disabled person with MS, I know how my mental health can vary every day. The frustration of not being able to do something can lead to anger, frustration, and upset. My illness is progressive and can vary every day, so I have to live with not knowing how I will be the next day, week, month all the time. Something I could do easily before might not be the case tomorrow. This leads to anxiety and sometimes depression.

Having to say no due to my health is hard to do after years of practice. The one thing I have learnt is to expect nothing and live with the here and now. You can’t plan ahead, just deal with it at the time. Most important of all is to talk about everything and not to expect people to guess, predict,or understand. We’re all different. Having a good friend, therapist, etc to talk to makes all the difference.

If I Can’t

If I can’t walk that fast,
then I’ll start a new race.
If I can’t keep my balance,
then I’ll sing as I sway.
If I can’t use my hand,
then I’ll learn a new trick.
If I get so very tired,
then I’ll run in my sleep.
If the heat is too much,
then I’ll wave at the sun.
If I forget the answer,
then I’ll find a new question.
If I can’t sleep at night,
then I’ll say good morning to the stars.

Julie Stevens has had multiple sclerosis (MS) for 30 years. Her poems tend to reflect on the impact MS has on her life, as well as other topics close to her heart. Her poems have been published in various magazines, online and in print, most recently in The Blue Nib, The Honest Ulsterman, and Dreich. Her chapbook Quicksand was published by Hybrid Press having placed second in the Dreich Chapbook Competition 2020. Her website is http://www.jumpingjulespoetry.com.

If I Can’t was a winning poem in the 2019 Bespoke Verses competition and published in the MS Society’s magazine.

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For further information and support, please visit https://www.firstfortnight.ie/resources/find-help

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