After an MS Diagnosis at 15, I Went Into Deep Depression

Courtesy of Ashley Contino
Ashley Contino, age 21, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at just 15 years of age. Although at first she was relieved to hear that her condition wasnt fatal (she had fatigue, eye pain, and numbness on one side of the body), she became depressed after learning more about multiple sclerosis. However, after fundraising—nearly $100,000 in all—and working to educate others, she has a more positive attitude. She has had only one relapse since her initial diagnosis.

My diagnosis with multiple sclerosis all happened in about two weeks. About six years ago, when I was 15 and in ninth grade, I started getting really tired. I was playing high school volleyball and junior Olympic ball and I thought I was just overdoing it. For about a week, I started sleeping from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Then, one day, I was fine in the morning but began getting an awful pain behind my eyes during school. I told one of my teachers and was sent to the nurse.

On the way to the nurses office, I was walking through the halls and my whole side went numb. I could actually feel my face drooping like when you take Novocaine at the dentists office. It was the scariest time in my life because I had never felt anything like it before. Then, before I reached the nurses office, I passed out.

Someone got me to her office and my blood pressure was really high. My father came and picked me up and took me to the hospital. There, they did a CT scan and the doctor told me I was having migraines and was going to send me home. I looked him right in the face and said, ‘This is no migraine. They did another brain scan and saw that there was something on my brain. I was sent to a neurologist who had me get an MRI done just two days after I left the hospital. A few days later, I went to see him and he said he thought it was Lyme disease and not to worry because it was treatable. The next day, they did a spinal tap and a couple of days later, I went to his office and he told me I had MS.

I took it really well when he told me. I was sitting in his office and he said, you have to learn to grow up at 15. I thought, ‘Its not killing me, so whatever.

Then I got home and my parents were freaking out. I sat down with my mom and started researching it. After that, I went into a deep depression and didnt eat or come out of my room for three days. All I could think, was, ‘What did I do to deserve this? But I am a Christian, and eventually I realized I was given this for a reason; I wasnt going to be given anything that I couldnt handle. I was given it to make a difference.
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As told to Tammy Worth
Last Updated: October 15, 2012

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