Behind the illness (I’m more than my MS)

I share a lot here about my life with MS and how my illness has transformed me (for both good and bad) over the last couple of years.  It’s important to remember though who I was before my illness and who I still am if you were to strip all of my health worries away.  I’m still me and I still have many of the same hopes and dreams.

behind the illness I'm more than my MS

That’s why I jumped at the chance to take part in the ‘You behind the illness’ tag when Caz from Invisibly Me tagged me in her own, lovely list of answers.  You should definitely check out her responses if you haven’t already!

This tag, on the whole, was really fun to do as I felt I could share some of my life experiences and give you a bit more of a glimpse into who I really am.  I hope you like reading these memories as much as I loved writing them!

Behind the illness or because of my illness?

However, as I have a tendency to overthink things, I also found I started to question a lot of my answers.  Could I really separate out the me from my illness?  I may not have had a diagnosis until fairly recently but I have had MS since I was a teenager (albeit in a much milder form).  Were things I considered to be part of my personality actually due to my MS?  Would I have been more adventurous and said yes to more without it?  I will never know.

I do know for certain though that my MS diagnosis has changed some of my answers when it comes to what I like to eat and drink now.  So maybe some of my responses are more the me because of my illness and there’s no getting away from that.  Enjoy reading them though, just the same!

Four places I’ve lived: 

  1. Leicester; I went to university there and learnt how to design and make corsets and lingerie!
  2. (and 3 and 4) Staffordshire/Stoke-on-Trent: various places within the county.

Four places I’ve worked:

  1. A high school; as an art teacher, curriculum leader and assistant head of literacy and no I don’t know how I did it all!
  2. A sixth form centre; as a supply teacher.
  3. A leisure centre; as a receptionist, lifeguard and behind the bar (but not all at the same time).  Being a lifeguard is nothing like Baywatch!
  4. A coffee shop
behind the illness, art and crafts bag
A bag I made for a friend


Four favourite hobbies:

  1. Art and crafts; anything creative really but especially sewing and creating crafts for kids.  I keep trying to learn to crochet but I don’t get very far.  I’d love to make this crochet wall art by Jemma from Thimble and Twig though if I got any good!
  2. Reading; I’ve just rediscovered reading again.  I recently set up an online book club to help encourage me to read more if you fancy joining me!
  3. Light exercise; I’m definitely limited by my illness but I love yoga/short walks whenever I feel up to it.
  4. Baking; I’ve always struggled to find the energy for this, even more so now but I love it when I’m able to bake.  All the recipes I follow are for healthy bakes now.
behind the illness, art and crafts sewing
Two of my favourite things; hippos and sewing!

Four things I like to watch:

  1. Light-hearted, girly comedy films; such as Mean Girls and Clueless etc that I’ve already watched a zillion times but they’re just so good!
  2. Nature; I love being outside, soaking up everything around me.
  3. My little boy; it’s the best thing ever to watch him play and grow.
  4. Art documentaries; I think it must be the art teacher in me!  

Four things I like to read:

  1. Faces; faces and portraits fascinate me.  Portraits are my favourite thing to draw.
  2. Good books; a couple of my favourites are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and the Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger as they’re just magical.
  3. Blogs; especially chronic illness blogs
  4. Menus/recipes with food I can/want to eat; show me a menu or recipe filled with delicious and healthy food which caters for my diet and I am in love.  I’ve always been a vegetarian but since I started the OMS diet eating out is even harder.
behind the illness
Loving my new baby bump in New York

Four places I have been:

  1. Hawaii; yes, it was amazing in every single way!  Absolutely beautiful, stunning scenery everywhere.  I’ve never been more relaxed in my life.  Please can someone take me back…
  2. New York; I’ve actually been 3 times and loved exploring different things each time.  The first time I went I was a teacher on a school art trip.  It was when the ash cloud hit in 2010 and we ended up stranded there for about 6 extra days, not knowing when we’d be able to leave!  
  3. The Highlands, Scotland; I’ve visited here so many times as I love it so much!  We even took our son on his first holiday here when he was 10 months old.  
  4. Austria; another place where the landscapes are just so beautiful and dramatic.  
behind the illness, chocolate
Chocoholic in action! I’m actually 7 months pregnant in this photo too.

Four things I love to eat:

  1. Pizza;  it’s delicious.  For toppings, I used to love loads of veggies and loads of cheese, I NEVER thought I’d love a healthy version but I do.  I like a few chunks of pineapple adding too which I know is a bit of a contentious issue!
  2. Chocolate; I was a serious chocoholic and I still am really, I just throw cacao powder into everything that I can instead!  I’ll even have it for breakfast; chocolate and pear/chocolate and banana porridge is delicious!
  3. Red and yellow peppers; I can snack on slices of raw peppers like they’re sweets.
  4. Cake; who doesn’t love cake?!  Sadly no longer part of my low-fat diet but I used to love chocolate cake (the sicklier the better). Thank goodness for Deliciously Ella, a recent favourite for healthy bakes now!

Four favourite things to drink:

  1. Herbal teas; I used to love green tea but I stay away from caffeine now.   I like so many but my favourites are ginger and fennel tea.
  2. Hot chocolate; I’ve found a healthy version which I love.
  3. Amaretto and lemonade; although I don’t drink much anymore.
  4. Smoothies; I try to make one every day and I love trying out different flavours.  I even like kale in a smoothie, I never thought I’d see the day!
behind the illness, hawaii
Hawaiian sunset!

Four places I want to visit:

  1. Hawaii; it’s my dream to go back there and take our son so he can enjoy it too. Everything is so laid back and relaxed, I think it would suit my MS well as the pace is so much slower!
  2. The Pyrenees/Carcassonne; I’ve wanted to go here since reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, this area sounds so beautiful.  We’re going in the summer and I’m excited but also a little nervous.  It will be my first holiday abroad since my diagnosis and my first with a toddler too!
  3. Canada; for the amazing scenery.  This Canadian travel article by Carolanne from A Literary Cocktail covers so many reasons it would be fantastic to go there!
  4. New Zealand; I’d love the scenery, not sure how I’d cope with the flight now though!

Four bloggers I’d like to tag

I’m tagging a few other bloggers too as I’d really like to read their answers, please join in if you’d like to and anyone else who’d love to get involved too!

  1. Nicola from Nicola J Ogston
  2. Hannah from An Ordinary Girl With MS
  3. Melissa from Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia 
  4. Char from Chronically Hopeful

So there you go, that’s a little bit of the me behind the illness.  I know I have a tendency to waffle so I’m sorry if you now know more about me than you ever wanted to but I hope I didn’t bore you completely!  

I’d love to know what you’re like behind your illness and if we like similar things!  Do you find it hard sometimes to separate out who you would be without your illness too?

behind the illness, watching my son grow up

16 thoughts on “Behind the illness (I’m more than my MS)”

  • Love this, it’s great to find out more about you. We definitely have some things in common. I studied art and textiles to MA level and still enjoy making even though I don’t often have a reason to make something for!

  • Loved reading this post, Natalie. I like a lot of the things that you do, though I’ve never been to Hawaii – sounds wonderful 🙂 Looking forward to your book club.

  • Thank you for the nomination, Natalie!
    This was such a fun post to read – we have much in common as far as likes and hobbies and even jobs go. Love your creations, that bag and the hippos are lovely!
    Hawaii sounds amazing and Austria is just gorgeous, isn’t it? One of my favourite places.

  • This was such a cool read; I loved hearing about what makes you YOU. I have a brother who has lived in NZ for 25 years, and loves it! Yes, it is a looog flight! WE also love Japan, and my daughter has lived there for several years. I look forward to future blog posts. 🙂

  • This was a lovely read! I have life long injuries/deformations in my legs that people can’t seem to separate me from even though I’m mostly functional, it always makes it so difficult to apply for jobs. Hopefully people will be more open to seeing all of us as actual people soon 😀

  • Loved reading your answers Natalie and learning so much about you! I too am a chocoholic and satisfy my cravings by making OMS friendly cupcakes There is a recipe in my blog for chocolate cake from the OMS site that I make into little muffins, they are so good with raspberries on top 🙂 I also loved the Time Travellers Wife xxx

    • Thanks Jenny. I’ll definitely check out your recipe. Any recipe which comes so highly recommended and manages to combine chocolate with healthy eating is a winner as far as I’m concerned!xxx

  • I loved reading these Natalie So nice to learn more about you. Hawaii sounds amazing. I think I need to go!! Love all your pics, and what a beautiful bag you made for your friend xx

    • Thanks Emma! I couldn’t recommend Hawaii enough. We should all go; chronic illness bloggers on tour! I’m sure it would have loads of health benefits xx

  • Yay, I’m so glad you did this tag – it was great to read your answers! I get the issue of “Could I really separate out the me from my illness?” though, but that’s also why I liked this tag because it tries to remind us that we’re still “us” underneath it all. And wow, you were a Baywatch babe!
    Caz xx

    • Thanks Caz. I know I think about things too much but I’ve been ill to one degree or another since before adulthood so I don’t think I can say for certain who I’d be without MS! Maybe I could pretend being a lifeguard was like being a Baywatch babe 🙂

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