Tonight finds me thinking about what might possibly have been very different in my life, if not for my unfortunate development of multiple chronic illnesses. In terms of my career, I have no doubt that I would have had a much more successful career as a clinical health psychologist. Perhaps I would have obtained tenure at this point, given my longstanding interest in a career as an academic and research psychologist.
There is, without a doubt, an ongoing sense of very deep loss that permeates my life. I’ve recycled through the classic stages of grief and loss, multiple times, throughout my decades of coping with multiple chronic illness. My current situation is easier to accept on some days, and yet still feels entirely raw on others.
In thinking about what might have been, however, I have intentionally trained myself to look at the exact converse of this extremely challenging situation. What might have been is that I would no longer even be here, given my long history of struggling with severe depression.
What might have been is that my MS could have progressed to a secondary-progressive stage at this point, twenty-five years post-diagnosis. What might have been is that my temporary blindness, induced by multiple episodes of optic neuritis, might have become permanent. What might have been is that I am a patient in a nursing home, as opposed to a clinical health psychologist providing services in such a setting.