Coffee, Tea, or Therapy
I remember the stress, frustration, and anxiety I endured when trying to grasp the concept of multiplication. I recall sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework with my mother. As she helped me with problem after problem, even while being encouraging and supportive, I just know she experienced similar feelings while I tried to conquer my 'times tables.' Oh, the crying, helplessness, and feeling of wanting to give up and give in. The good news is that once I finally got it, I finally got it. But all these years later, I have never forgotten the feelings during the process of getting it. But then, years later, multiple sclerosis entered my world and...
The overwhelming emotions of living with MS
So much came with this overwhelming chronic disease! The emotional responses I had while learning multiplication had absolutely nothing on my woes of living with MS. From being diagnosed; to the flare-ups and exacerbations; to worsening old, then new symptoms; to its uncertainty and unpredictability; to snatching your functionality and independence; it is definitely not unusual to feel frustration, stress, anxiety, distress, anger, or fear of the unknown.
Emotional challenges on top of physical limitations
These frustrations are even more prominent if you add work and caring for a family or children in addition to the responsibilities of caring for your own health and wellbeing. As if the physical symptoms such as challenged mobility, fatigue, incontinence, pain, numbness, and tingling aren't enough to contend with, emotional changes and mental health challenges can be just as (if not more) distressing and disabling. Not to mention feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness presenting as more debilitation and/or when transitioning into other stages may occur. It can be difficult not to worry or become depressed.
Finding a sympathetic ear or someone who has been down the same path
So what next? How can one deal mentally with such physical distress? Thrive under such emotional strife? Sometimes a good, old fashioned venting session over a cup of coffee or tea with a kind, sympathetic friend or family member to 'get it out' may help you. Or, perchance, it's necessary to talk to someone who is more than just one who is willing to lend a compassionate ear - who we are thankful for, of course! - but rather another who actually understands life with MS. In this case, local or online support groups can help as well as turning to our MultipleSclerosis.net community. Here, you can read the personal stories and thoughts of others who fight the same fight or reach out to our community members directly through the Q&A feature on MultipleSclerosis.net. Both of these sections let you know that you are not alone in this.
Seeking professional support and help
And when all of the above is great, but maybe additional support is necessary, it's ok to also consider professional counseling or therapy. Ignoring situations/problems is not the same thing as effectively dealing with them. There are dangers in avoiding help for our physical and mental health. Heightened anxiety and depression can lead to avoidant behaviors that can stop you from doing things that are necessary for and enjoyable to you.
What works for one may not work for another
What those with MS have in common is that we experience the disease differently and what works for one may not work for all. If it's not a session with coffee or tea, just go a bit further and try therapy. Again, it's ok. We're still all in this together.
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?