Millions of people have a chronic illness, and yet despite how pervasive they are, many don’t know much about chronic and invisible illnesses. In our new podcast, we spoke with Wendy Bjork, who was diagnosed with MS in the 1990s. We discuss her diagnosis and life with MS, but also Wendy’s commitment to helping others with chronic and invisible illnesses.
Find out how Wendy Bjork is helping people with MS and other chronic illnesses in our podcast interview below:
Wendy Bjork is, in her own words, the MS Warrior Queen, and has been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis for over 30 years. After years of experiencing all different levels of exacerbation and permanent damage to her nervous system, she decided a few years ago to begin a journey to healing holistically. She is now a mentor to other women diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, empowering them to improve their Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment by bringing out their Inner MS Warrior Queen. She is also an author for the National MS Society’s Momentum magazine.
To start our conversation, Wendy shares her earliest experiences with MS, from her first symptoms to seeking answers to finally getting a diagnosis. Like so many illnesses, it took some time for Wendy and her doctors to realize how serious the symptoms were. It’s easy to brush things off at first, but finding the right diagnosis, as Wendy saw, can take some time.
Wendy divulges some of the feelings she had after getting this life-changing diagnosis. As she describes, when you’re that young — late teens and early twenties — it’s hard to imagine yourself as anything but healthy. Getting diagnosed with MS was a major impact.
Beyond grappling with the diagnosis on her own, Wendy also faced mixed reactions when she revealed it to others. Family, friends, and co-workers can range from wanting to help to brushing off symptoms or not taking them seriously. Some people suggest “miracle cures” or create a feeling of negativity around your illness.
Indeed, there is a lot of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding chronic and invisible illnesses. Wendy lists out five of the biggest ones here. Some are well-meaning but inaccurate; others are just ignorant. Some can even be harmful. Have you ever believed any of these myths?
As Wendy describes in our podcast, she believes that it’s actually harmful to pretend to be and feel fine when you’re actually suffering. Most of us do this, and it can be detrimental to us all. But for people with a chronic illness, acting like you’re okay when you aren’t can lead to worse problems. It’s important to find the right balance between honesty about how you feel, but not wallowing.
Today, Wendy uses her experiences with MS to help other women navigate this incurable illness. She launched the organization Hearts of Wellness to be a valuable resource for women living with chronic illness. It’s a wonderful way to give back and make life easier for those who could use the helping hand.
Listen to our podcast with Wendy below about MS and navigating life with a chronic illness:
To find out more about Wendy Bjork, visit her official website here. You can also learn about Hearts of Wellness here. To keep up with all Wendy is doing, be sure to follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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