How We Do It: Dealing With MS Setbacks

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Living with MS is like being on a roller coaster. Things are going okay. You’re managing. Getting through each day. And then – BAM! Your life is thrown for a loop.

Perhaps it’s another flare. Or a new symptom pops up. Or something about your MS changes unexpectedly. It can be devastating to feel as though all the progress you’ve made is wiped away in an instant. Starting over again...and again...can be so incredibly hard, both physically and emotionally.

We asked our MultipleSclerosis.net community how they cope with MS setbacks. Here’s what they shared.

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I just keep putting one foot in front in front of the other - multiplesclerosis.net
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Community Poll

How long ago was your last setback?

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Express yourself

When a setback sets in, you may feel sad. Or mad. Or have moments when you break down. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s completely normal. Our community agrees: setbacks are tough. And there’s no right or wrong way to express your emotions. Give yourself time and space to just f-e-e-l. The most important thing? Don’t keep your emotions in. Let ‘em out.

How does our community cope? Some turn to humor and laughter to try to lighten things. Others find music a soothing companion. And others seek out someone they trust to talk it through.

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A laptop on a pile of books with a cupcake

“I kick and scream and cry for a moment. Then I pick myself up, indulge in something that makes me happy, and prepare for whatever I have to do next.”

– MultipleSclerosis.net Community Member


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Community Poll

When you feel a flare coming on, what’s the first thing you do?

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The art of rest

You wake up. You have everything planned. Where you need to go. What you need to do. Then it happens. You feel a flare coming on. Fatigue creeping in. Your day is derailed. That checklist of to-do’s? Well, they’re not getting done. Not today anyway.

And that’s okay. There’s no doubt about it: when living with MS, there will be moments when you have to dial it back and take it easy.

Resting should be, well, restful, right? Not always. Some in our community mentioned that trying to unplug from life’s stresses can bring on even more stress. To counter this, mentally give yourself permission to put you and your health first. Remember that old saying: you can’t pour from an empty cup? There’s a lot of truth in that.

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A stack of papers turn into a heart and then a plate of chicken with vegetables

“I move as many things off my plate as I can and order some groceries to be delivered with lots of healthy, easy choices. I find something to binge-watch on Netflix. And rest, rest, rest!”

– MultipleSclerosis.net Community Member


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Take it day by day

What will tomorrow look like? For those with MS, tomorrow can be full of question marks.

Many in our community take a “go with the flow” approach when it comes to their MS. Rolling with the ups with the downs.

What helps? Not worrying about the future. Focusing on – and enjoying – the present. Being patient with yourself when those hard days happen. And partnering with your medical team to keep up with your care and stay up on the latest research.

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“I have learned to roll with the punches. I enjoy the good days – and try not to get down when the bad days happen.”

– MultipleSclerosis.net Community Member


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Pushing past setbacks

Moving forward when setbacks hit can sometimes be difficult. And it becomes even more complicated because they’re often unpredictable. Practicing patience, creating a coping strategy, and having a strong support system in place can help.

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Community Poll

Who do you turn to for support when facing a setback?