Those are the words of Eliz Martin, who writes about life with multiple sclerosis (MS) on her blog, The Sparkled Life. We recently asked Martin and a handful of other remarkable bloggers and advocates to share the words, thoughts, and even songs that help them remain optimistic in the face of MS. Even on those really bad days.

Here’s what they had to share:

Eliz Martin

Elizabeth Martin has been a multiple sclerosis sparkler for 6 years. She’s gone from wheelchair to cyclist and enjoys traveling with her trusty arm crutch. Follow along on her journey on Instagram or visit her blog.

What is your MS mantra?

Hope. Hope for relief. Hope for the courage to live this life fully. Hope for continued love and giving. Hope for the ability to walk for just a bit longer. Hope for uninterrupted peace. Hope for a cure. Hope. It’s such a small word and yet it encompasses everything I feel and need. I believe in this small word so profoundly and only can remain optimistic that it believes in me too.

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

After spending a year in the wheelchair, I decided to pursue extensive rehabilitation to relearn to walk. At the beginning of the journey I was tasked with identifying three goals I wanted to accomplish. “To ride a bicycle again” I wrote in large writing at the top of the page. I decided at that moment that multiple sclerosis might take some important things away from me, but this was not going to be one of them.

Three months later I was back on the bicycle. Even after a horrific fall that left more than just a scar, I countered defeat, adapted to the change, and now I gear up for long trail rides in my recumbent tricycle. I have become the cliché: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Eliz Martin, living with MS for 6 years Hope. It’s such a small word and yet it encompasses everything I feel and need.

Justine Calcagno

Justine Calcagno was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2016. On her Instagram account, she celebrates her love of long distance running. Among her other passions: spending time with her husband and kitties, and trying out new gluten-free recipes. Calcagno is a university professor in the Washington, D.C. area, but in her words: “I'll always be an Oregonian!” Follow Justine on Instagram.

What is your MS mantra?

I really relate to this question. I do have a mantra, which is, “You’re OK. You’ve been through worse.” I lost my brother when I was 17 years old when he died in an accident. We were very close. I’ve never felt so much pain in my life. When I was diagnosed with MS, I thought a lot about my brother. What would he want me to do? I know he’d want me to fight. When things get challenging with MS, I think about him, about how I’m still here, and about how the pain and frustration of MS doesn’t compare to losing my brother. So by reminding myself that I’ve been through worse, I know I can get through anything with MS. I still have a life to live well.

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

MS is such a fluid experience. Some weeks I feel fine, and other weeks are filled with pain. You really can’t predict its course from day to day. So, like MS, the activities that make me feel better vary, as well.

My first choice is to run far on a gorgeous trail. If I can’t run, I practice yoga. If I can’t practice yoga, I stretch gently. If I can’t stretch, I lay and meditate. If I can’t meditate, I breath. Coping — and thriving — with MS requires adaptability and flexibility. You have to keep an open mind and heart, and when times get tough, I do activities that fit with my needs and limitations at that moment.

Justine Calgano, living with MS My first choice is to run far on a gorgeous trail. If I can’t run, I practice yoga. If I can’t practice yoga, I stretch gently. If I can’t stretch, I lay and meditate. If I can’t meditate, I breath.

Brooke Robinson

Brooke Robinson is a 33-year-old marketing professional specializing in social media advertising. She was diagnosed with MS in April of 2015 after years of misdiagnosis. Robinson continued to build her career despite her progressing disability, and after a medical trial in Ottawa, Ontario — a hematopoietic stem cell transplant — she’s getting her life back. You can follow her on Twitter.

What is your MS mantra?

UNAPOLOGETIC. This was the most essential — but most difficult — thing to learn when diagnosed with a chronic illness. People don’t understand and often lack the ability to empathize with those that are “different.” My need to constantly use the bathroom, due to my incontinence, made friends uncomfortable. Later on, when I needed a cane, it made coworkers, friends, and family feel “sorry” but uncomfortable. All of this was out of my control, but caused a great deal of stress on me for making people uncomfortable. So I had to learn to be unapologetic about my disability.

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

Friends treating me like a normal person. I wanted to keep living my life as normally as possible but the disabilities made things difficult. I couldn’t go to pubs with bathrooms in the basement (so many of these in Toronto!) and I couldn’t go dancing or play sports like I used to. My friends made concessions like hanging out at my place across town instead of going out dancing, or meeting me near my office for an after-work vent session. It really is all about surrounding yourself with good people who make you feel less of a burden and more of a human.

Dan and Jennifer Digmann

Dan and Jennifer Digmann met and fell in love at a multiple sclerosis event in 2002 and today are #MarriageGoals personified. Dan has relapsing-remitting MS and Jennifer has secondary-progressive MS which has left her unable to walk.

The Digmann’s are active in the MS community as public speakers, writers, and advocates. They contribute regularly to their award-winning blog, and are authors of “Despite MS, to Spite MS,” a collection of personal stories about their life together with multiple sclerosis. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What is your MS mantra?

We both love music, so it probably comes as no surprise that lines from our favorite artists make up our mantras that help us live with multiple sclerosis.

Jennifer: It’s kind of like Tom Petty is singing directly to me and is rooting for me in my fight with MS. “Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out / (I won’t back down) / Hey, I will stand my ground / And I won’t back down / No, I won’t back down…” This is important to me because it reinforces that MS isn’t an easy disease, but it also reinforces that I’m not easy to beat.

Dan: The words of Bruce Springsteen have given me many a mantra as I’ve gone head-to-head with MS. But the lines I continue to turn to are: “It don’t matter just what you say / Are you tough enough to play the games they play? / Or will you just do your time and fade away?” To that, I say: Game on. Game ON. These lines carry me through a mindset that I’m in a competition with MS and that I need to be strong and play hard every single day.

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

To help us feel better when times get tough, we listen to our music (see answers above). That’s the beauty of music. It’s easily accessible and never loud enough!

Alene Brennan

Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

What is your MS mantra?

I was diagnosed with MS as an active and single 36-year-old fitness professional. I had done all the right things for my body, yet here I was with MS. I had a choice: focus on the fear or focus on the positive. The words I had shared as a yoga instructor, “That which you focus on gets bigger,” echoed in my mind. That mantra empowered me to bring a greater purpose to my diagnosis, so I dedicated my nutrition coaching practice to those living with MS and created an MSIndependent Anthem. It’s my battle cry to stand up to MS… to contradict what this disease and the world expects of me (and you!).

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

I’ve always been one to lace up my bootstraps and dig deeper… until MS broke my “dig deeper button.” It stripped my reserves. So for me, when the fatigue sets in — or ideally before — I give myself permission to rest. It has become one of the greatest gifts MS has given to me. I’ll diffuse essential oils, grab a comfy blanket, and give my body the time it needs to rest. What I found most interesting is that by creating space for this rest, my body recovers much easier. It’s as though my body began trusting me again.

Alene Brennan, living with MS since 2016 I had a choice: focus on the fear or focus on the positive.

Doug Ankerman

Doug describes himself as a member of the “MS Class of 1996.” He writes humor about life with multiple sclerosis and other stuff at myoddsock.com and is a contributing writer for Healthline, Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), and MS-UK. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter (but don’t tell the authorities).

What is your MS mantra?

My MS mantra is “keep moving.” I never realized that Isaac Newton’s first law of motion would have such an impact on my diagnosis. It states “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.” Who knew this would relate to MS? But it does! So I tell myself (and others) to “keep moving.” Move what you can, as much as you can. C’mon, get started. Don’t let Isaac down!

What happens when times get tough? What activity makes you feel better?

With MS, you are bound to have tough days. In my 22 years with the dreaded ick, I have had more than my share of days with bold-faced expletives. That’s when I try to do light stretching and simple range-of-motion exercises. Anything to limber up my spasticity-racked body.

Also, just sitting outside, breathing deeply, and observing the world around me helps to slow things down and put it all in perspective.