Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis has enabled me to become the person I always wanted to be. I was diagnosed at the age of 28, in 2008, and while it was a shock, it was also a relief to know what was wrong with me so I could start being practical about how to move forward.
I took a good look at my life and I made that “bucket list” of things that I’d always wanted to do but somehow life had always got in the way. Some things were small, like going to my first ballet, others were bigger, like trying out snowboarding.
I wasn’t given a huge amount of support or signposted to information when I was diagnosed so it was a very steep learning curve for myself and my family. As a result, I knew I didn’t want other people to go through the same thing and I got involved with advocacy and awareness-raising. I began to work with various charities and non-profits and soon I was learning new skills, gaining confidence and feeling like I was making a difference to others with the condition.
I speak at events and in the media about issues affecting people with MS/chronic illness/disability, campaign, write, vlog, blog, advise on health projects/research studies and am a patron/ambassador for several national and local charities. This has all led to some amazing things, such as being guest speaker at a charity reception at 10 Downing Street, speaking at the Houses of Parliament on a number of occasions and travelling to places I’d have never have thought of going to.
But probably the most amazing thing to have happened, and what was a dream come true for me, was having the opportunity to do Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With The Stars) on BBC1. The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief was a four-part spin-off of the hugely popular prime-time dance show and for the first time ever they were looking for non-celebrities to take part. They had to be people who had overcome adversity, done lots of charity work or had given lots to others. My sister nominated me and from over 11,000 nominations six of us were chosen. To me it was like winning the lottery!
I was given the full Strictly experience, learnt to dance, had a makeover and then got to perform a jive in front of a studio audience and millions of TV viewers. I had the chance to show the world that MS wasn’t going to stop me but also had the opportunity to give people a window into what it can be like to live with this condition. I was immensely proud of what I did, especially as it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done both mentally and physically. I truly believe that I’ve turned my MS into something positive in my life and that when you have the right support around you and a certain mindset, things you never thought possible become a reality. And most importantly, my experience shows that despite living with chronic illness, dreams can still come true!
To see Trishna in the People’s Strictly, which was broadcast in March 2015, go to the following links: