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Anger & Multiple Sclerosis

Anger & Multiple Sclerosis

I’ve had many people ask me how I’m not bitter, mean & just flat out angry, with everything that I go through having Multiple Sclerosis. The truth? Just because those things don’t classify who I am as a person, doesn’t mean that I don’t have to deal with those emotions at times.

One of the things that I let people with MS know, especially the newly diagnosed, is that whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay. No one has the right to tell you how to ‘feel’. If we could control our emotions that easily, things would be a lot different in the world, that’s for sure. I try to be a positive person, someone that can encourage others, but I’m also honest with how I feel with my MS. I’m not ALWAYS happy, I’m not ALWAYS positive, and that’s okay. I’ve accepted that. I wouldn’t be human if I was always Miss Happy-Go-Lucky, so to say.

It’s not just in the beginning

A lot of people who don’t have MS, think that the anger and depression and all the ‘negative’ emotions, are only in the beginning, but that’s not true, for me at least. Until recently, I had NEVER had an MRI come back with NO NEW ACTIVITY. Every time I got in that horrible machine, I was hopeful that this time, it would be different. And for 4-years, that hope that things would be better, didn’t happen for me.

I was angry and sad and just felt hopeless, every time those MRI reports came back that had new/worsening lesions. Here I was, doing everything I was supposed to do with taking my DMT’s, trying to do my best to not aggravate my MS… with no luck. It was like I was doing everything by the book, and never getting a break.

I don’t want to sit here and tell you some of the things I did, thought, etc. when I reacted to the results, because it’s just ‘not me’. It was like, an out of body experience with the anger and sadness that overwhelmed me. Did I get past that? Yes, I did…. But it wasn’t easy. It didn’t always happen as quickly as I would have hoped. I still deal with the anger, but it’s not an overwhelming type of anger. I get in my ‘moods’ where I’m just sitting here like, what did I do to deserve this? Haven’t I been through enough in my life? Don’t my kids deserve a mom that can do EVERYTHING for them and with them? Doesn’t my husband deserve the wife that he married?

It takes time

I’m sitting here writing this, and I’m getting worked up about it. Because I’ve had a lot of time to think about all of this, and it’s depressing. Why am I writing this? Why am I showing people that have come to me for help that I need help sometimes too? That I’m not completely ‘put together’? I’ll tell you why, because I’m not a liar. That’s the cold hard truth. I can sit here and tell you and so many others, that it’s going to be okay. And it will be okay, with time. There is no time frame on how long it will take to for things to level out, for things to calm down. But I can tell you that you aren’t alone. I can tell you that there are so many people out there who have your back. Complete strangers… that will be there for you, no questions asked.

I know that this isn’t my ‘normal’ type of writing. I try to stay positive… try to tell it like it is, with a sense of humor included. But there are some things that you just can’t sugar coat. I know I’ve talked about “Dealing with MS Diagnosis” before, but I didn’t sit there and elaborate on the negative emotions. Because who wants to do that? What I have realized is that the anger, the bitterness, the sadness, and all of that… it has made me stronger. By feeling those emotions, dealing with them and getting better despite them, makes me stronger in the long run.

One thing that bothers me, about the representation of MS patients, coming from ads, graphics, whatever kind of marketing going on, is that there is always this positive person portrayed. This perfectly happy human being that doesn’t seem to be phased by anything. When, that’s a lie. I’m not saying it’s wrong to portray happiness & positivity. But with that, there is so much more going on. Are those people just putting on their ‘mask’ for the public eye? Is the happiness real? Throughout all of this, I am happy with where I am. Yes, I have Multiple Sclerosis. Yes, I’ve felt things and done things that I wouldn’t have normally done. But all of that together, makes me who I am. I try to not ‘show it’ when I’m angry, depressed, sad… but I don’t know how well I’m hiding it. I don’t think I should have to hide it. CryingBecause in reality, there is no perfect, happy, positive person living with MS, that hasn’t been affected by negativity, anger, and depression.

You aren’t alone

So, what’s my point in all of this? It’s that, no matter what… you aren’t alone. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to ‘get over it’. Don’t let something you see make you feel isolated. You have the right to feel how you feel, but I’m telling you from experience… don’t let it take over your life. Don’t let it change who you are in a bad way. Learn from it, become stronger from it, and keep fighting. Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to others when you are down, or just need to vent. Don’t keep the anger and negativity bottled up… because it will become too much at some point, and you will explode. Trust me on that.

Ashley Ringstaff | Follow me on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Pinterest

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • tfs
    2 years ago

    Anger: very real. Justified. Mortified. Horrified. I had one of those days yesterday. I think something good can come from feeling anger. If you don’t feel anger, you will push it down and eventually explode and react in unreasonable ways.(see yesterday) Today I hurt, my walking worse, my foot dragging more and I said out loud I wished this bad joke would just go away. Today I was just a bit sad and the anger gone. Feel the anger – it will get you one way or the other. You don’t have to blame others.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    2 years ago

    Very true. We do need to let it out at times – if we bottle it up we will explode. I’ve been there and done that.


  • Mascha
    3 years ago

    Fantastic article!! Glad to have you back writing:)
    I actually wrote a article for Amsterdam VUMC explaining that MS has a different face instead of mountain climbing or running marathons. Like you got totally frustrated with the false image. But even after my article hit their site, they still showed MS as super fit people climbing mountains.
    I like your truthfulness:)

  • Artjj44
    4 years ago

    Anger? What did that do for you? Where was the benefit? I ask myself this often, 5 years into MS. yes, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been “MS” angry. 1st time was at diagnosis. I knew about MS, my dad, my ex mother in law (quadrapelegic ), so I took the news in stride. “Whats the plan?…No definitive answer from the Neurologist. Told him he s##### and never saw him again. Drop a bombshell and not offer a plan? Angry was a nice word of description.o see t recently, my fiance of 8 years ( we have a 7 ur old) we’re discussing paFu Kent for his insurance. Everything paid and was cool. Tried to explain billing cycle changes and she was making her point, both correct. She started by saying “Hit the MS hold button and listen to me”. Angry? Not even close.
    Point. Its OK to get angry at those who should know better and choose not to. Don’t get angry at yourself. What benefit do you get? Ask yourself next time. Hope it helps!

  • kicknMSback
    4 years ago

    That needed to be written, and you put it out there beautifully. Thanks, Ashley Besides sometimes being angry and frustrated can push you into doing something about it, just cause you are done with being in the current situation. This article will be available for when a person is ready to handle their anger and move past it.

  • Kat
    4 years ago

    Your post was exactly what I needed today. I hope you know what a difference you make in people’s lives. Thank you.

  • ThisBSMS
    4 years ago

    You said it so well. You said it like it is! Everything! Thank you!

    And I am tired of seeing these super positive people with MS too. One of the offenders is actually MS Society, showing these super people. We can be positive and we can be negative. We try to be as positive as we possibly can in order to function but it is not always easy. And it does not get easier, actually. For the most part I am dealing with it ok. And I had it for a long time. I try to see positive things in everything. As much as I can! But today for example, is not one of those days. I am angry today.

    Another thing that bugs me is when people say “everything happens for a reason” No, it does not. Things just happen & there are no explanations or reasons at times. I usually hear it from non- MS folks. I have to admit, it angers me too! 🙂

    And my “favorite” is “I have MS but it doesn’t have me!” I get the meaning of it, but actually MS has me! It does what it wants, how it wants to and when it wants to. MS has me & every aspect of my life, from my personal relationships, to career, to $ issues to my outlook & mood. Did I change to become completely bitter? No. I just changed. And that’s ok. But this “MS doesn’t have me” expression is simply not true!

  • Pokervibe
    4 years ago

    Exactly!! And u know what I hate. When I’m negative on any of these so called MS groups on FB. Ppl are like. We don’t need your negativity here. I’m like wtf are you there for then? My non MS friends don’t get it so who am I supposed to talk to then. Sigh

  • chalknpens
    4 years ago

    Well said, Ashley. “Happy” is the word at the center of my business plan; all efforts point toward achieving that result. I spent years taking graduate classes to meet my earlier center goal, teacher, and when I did, I was sometimes happy, and sometimes sad at how challenging it was and what time and energy it took from my children and husband. I didn’t know then that I was already running on empty. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my late fifties. And by my early sixties, I was encouraged to retire due to cognitive issues … rightly so. It was taking me 18 hours to respond to a set of 100 student essays … I used to be able to do that in 12, leaving a few for my family. MS took away my career, and a part of myself. I finally went to a psychiatrist, got antidepressants, and found that part of myself that I’d lost. I wrote seven books in the first three years. And in the fourth, I began planning what I would do with the rest of my life. I opened a quilt and fabric shop. And I am happy again. But at times, I’m angry, resentful, defensive, and just plain tired of “faking it ’til I’m making it.” But I have faith that I will make it, eventually.

  • Pokervibe
    4 years ago

    Yeah it took my life from me. I’m a completely different person who can’t rememeber anything any more. Not even 40 yet and I have a memory of a senior citizen. It took my career, husband (bc I think it’s too much for him), friends what else? I mean almost everything except my life bc I’m still here breathing. I really hate this disease and just want my old easy goin out going self back

  • moh45
    4 years ago

    Ashley thank you! thank you! thank you!. Your words and expression about your personal journey is right on time. I just opened my emails and read your article. I too was diagnosed with ms in 8/2010. I recently decided to accept an opportunity to speak to others about my personal journey with ms. As I prepared my words there has been a resurgence of emotions like anger and confusion that I am now well acquainted with but very much dislike. Just hearing someone else just keeping it real brought me back to a calmer place.
    I appreciate you sharing.

  • Dianna lyn
    4 years ago

    Ashley, I am 95 percent positive always, usually until 2007, and I said, “why me?” then, the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit, and I understand now, why I was slower back then, than most people or couldn’t walk normal at the adventurous parks without having to take breaks with my children. Angry, yes of course because this happened to me, until I chatted with cousin who also had the disease. She explained alot to me that was going on at that time. To learn to walk, and talk all over again is the disabling part, and yes, it’s been a rough road, but now I am more like, okay what’s next? I feel like I am ready but,like you I get really upset when I see commercials of MS patients showing off and also msconnection magazine portraying us ice skating. I can’t keep my balance, I would fall?? I already fell once, and it’s not fun to lay in bed under ice for 3-5 weeks! We have to be careful with our own bodies and no one knows your own body, except you.thanks for your post, I enjoyed your honesty..

  • Lori
    4 years ago

    I too understand those feelings – I would think if you have MS and DON’T admit to those feelings some of the time, then you aren’t being honest with yourself. MS is a process of lifetime grieving – each time you realize that you can’t do XX, when you did it 12 months ago, is a new grief. And yes, the trick is to not stay in that frame of mind. Not to sound pollyanna-ish, but after mt 15 minutes of ranting about the new issue, I force myself to sit down and look honestly at all the things that AREN’T wrong in my life. I can’t run any more – but I have a loving family. I can’t work at my high-stress job any more – but I am able to be home with my son (something I couldn’t do with his sister b/c I was working FT and EXHAUSTED). Other times I think of ways I could change what has happened – am I feeling a great deal more spasticity? Maybe I can get back into water exercise or stretching.

    And yes, there are times I just can’t do this process ‘yet’ and have to wait and let my emotions settle down enough for the rational brain to take over.And above all, my faith gets me through.

  • LaurieA
    4 years ago

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You touched on so many things that ARE my life. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, yet it still feels so fresh. Sometimes the pain, the anger, the sadness, are so overwhelming. I have serious triggers, even more today than in the first years after diagnosis. I can’t watch Dancing With the Stars because I used to dance. Not professionally. Just for fun. I even took ballroom dance lessons. Now, my dancing is limited to chairs. I hate even seeing commercials of people walking on beaches, roller skating, and so much more. It’s horribly evil how such common things, that most people do, hurt me so bad. I do put on a mask much of the time I’m with other people, out in public. Yes, sometimes I really do feel happy and can laugh. But more often than not, I’m angry or very sad. I don’t know how to turn it around.

    I have one question, always: what does it mean that hard things make you stronger? I’ve had a life with more than enough trauma and hard stuff. I can honestly say, I feel weaker. How can I feel stronger when I keep getting beat up, or down?

  • cw
    4 years ago

    Dear Ashly,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You tell it as it really is. I’ve been dx’d for more than 25 years and I have heard very few people tell it like really is. I still get angry as I am today after my last MRI. New spots but not active. worsening symptoms, white matter abnormality but nonspecific. Right now I angry at the way certain radiologist read MRI’s – they are so indecisive as if they’re afraid to call as they see it. Everything is nonspecific,ill-defined hypointese lesions, mild changes become ‘no significant changes’, etc., Sorry for my rant but going through one of those ‘anger’ periods too.

  • @masbrautigam
    4 years ago

    Mmmm while reading your post I am going through this phase.anger,pissed ,you name it.Telling myself I do not have MS.your story came at the right time and yes it’s not usually your way of writing but I do like your article,as it’s said how it is.The ‘get over it ‘ pisses me off lol.

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