Thursday March 29 2018 12:00 PM
For her very first MS and Me blog, Teresa McShane delivers a tale of her fast-paced and effervescent years as an advertising executive in London but soon discovered that life had other ideas.
I never realised I shared the renaissance of my existence with such an auspicious period in cultural history. Apparently, 1994 was a very good year.
I say, the renaissance of my existence because pre-1994, I was the original version of me. The version that at 23 could see my future in the fun, fast and furious lanes of the world of advertising in London Town. The version of me that was willingly and wantonly soaking up the endless media messages, the flashing lights, the billboards, the posters in the tube stations, the TV ads. It was all in your face… all in my face! Orange Tango’s ‘slap in the face’, Eva Herzagova’s ‘Wonderful, Wonder Bra’, Pot Noodles, the surreal golden Dunlop tyre man and Rab C. Nesbitt in the latest Hamlet Cigar ad. I was all about the media then. And anything was possible….
I soon discovered that life had other ideas.
Everything I thought about myself and how my life might be was blown to smithereens by a diagnosis gleaned from the base of my spine. The bright lights and dizzy posters towering above me that once served as aspirations and opportunity now weighed heavily on me and ground… me…down. I stayed down. I was too scared to come up. Too scared to wonder what might become of me?
By the age of 21, I had already backpacked around the world, worked in Dublin, Paris, London and Sydney and swum with alligators. And now, here I was at 23 at what seemed like the end of the road…. The ‘old me’ had died.
When you are working on an advertising campaign you have to figure out your strategy. Work out who you’re talking to and what you want to say about your product. Stay close to the brief. If it’s not working, or the strategy changes direction, then you need to start again. And so, I did.
I cannot deny it has been a rollercoaster of a journey for me, both mentally and physically. In the early years, the arrival of erratic and spontaneous symptoms cast the shadow of uncertainty over my future and played heavily on my mind. It drained me emotionally and the light at the end of the tunnel was very dim. As time went by, I ‘got to know’ my illness and figured out, for the most part, how to work around it. I adjusted my career aspirations and succumbed to my physical limitations.
Over 20 years later, my main brief is my family and looking after my two amazing boys. MS has cramped my style and I do get pangs of anger and regret of what ‘might have been?’. But who the heck knows what might have been?
It’s not 1994 anymore. This is where I am and by all accounts, 2018 is shaping up to be a very good year.