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15 minutes with MS blogger Amelia Southard

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Amelia Southard is a writer and blogger who lives in Devon. She was diagnosed with MS in 2002. Earlier this year she took part in the MS Trust Continence Question Time, a series of short videos looking at some common MS bowel and bladder problems.

Amelia Southard writer and blogger

What inspired you to start blogging?

I started because I had to stop working in 2009 and my husband Martin suggested that writing a blog might help me. I thought about it and decided that I would start writing. If I could help just one person then it would be worth it, so I started Tales of Life With Multiple Sclerosis.

Has it been therapeutic?

Blogging is very therapeutic for me! It turns out that I’ve found something I didn’t realise I was good at doing! I have been complimented about my writing. People say it is very straightforward and easy for people to understand. I just write as though I was talking to someone and it seems to work! Ever since the onset of my first symptoms, I have always tried to find ways of explaining what I’m feeling to Martin. He always wants to know what I’m going through, so I always try and express what a particular symptom feels like because he can’t see it. For example, the altered sensations that I have in my feet. Sometimes my toes will be burning, like when it’s freezing cold and you’ve been outside and then you come into a warm room and your toes burn as they come back to life, – except I won’t have been outside in the cold and they don’t ever come back to life!

How does it feel to know that your article on constipation for Open Door has been one of our most popular articles over the last 10 years?

I’m blown away by it but also, in a way, it makes me feel proud because it means that I’ve potentially helped people, and that is all I wanted to do when I started writing my blog! It took me a while to decide, once I had actually written it, whether I was going to publish it. It was a very personal post about a subject that generally is not spoken about. But that was one of the reasons why I decided to go ahead and publish it. We need to be able to talk about these issues. Everyone is made the same and everyone has these issues so why should we be embarrassed about it? The fact that so many people have read it says quite a lot too, doesn’t it?

You love the theatre. How accessible do you find venues?

Singing and musical theatre was what I trained to do and is probably one of the things I find the saddest about getting MS, that I am no longer able to perform in shows. But having said that, we have been able to do some fundraising concerts raising over £6,000 for local MS charities, which is quite satisfying! On the whole theatre venues are reasonably well equipped to deal with people with disabilities. They’ve had to adapt to all the new disability laws. The problem in London with theatres is that they are all quite old, so adapting them hasn’t been an easy thing to do. But they all do what they can!

What advice would you give someone who’s just been diagnosed?

Firstly just breathe. Your life isn’t over, it just may not be going in the direction that you thought it might. I would also say that MS is a complicated condition. There are many different symptoms but that doesn’t mean that you will end up with all of them. It not a forgone conclusion that you will end up in a wheelchair. I’ve always said that you could have a room full of people who have MS but our experience of the condition, although it may be similar, won’t be identical.

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