What It’s Like to Be a Friend to Someone With MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can create roadblocks in friendship. The uncertainty of what to say or how to support your friend can be challenging. Though MS has made a significant impact in my life, it has made my friendships closer.
Having a friend with MS
One of my closest friends is my best friend, Liana, of 25 years. We met in kindergarten. Of all my friends, she took my diagnosis the hardest. I remember hearing her sob when I told her. We progressed through my illness together. I interviewed her for this article, and I wanted to share her responses.
What was your initial reaction when you heard about my diagnosis?
After learning about your MS diagnosis, I was terrified. Over the years, I have heard different stories about MS and how it can affect patients’ quality of life. To hear that about my best friend, someone I depend on in my life, was scary. It might sound selfish, but all I could think about was, “how can I live my life without her?” Then, to know everything you would have to endure for the rest of your life devastated me. Life didn’t seem fair anymore.
What were some of your fears?
I was nervous about how MS would affect your abilities. You were already starting to feel terrible symptoms, and I wasn’t sure if they were reversible. Your mobility and ability to hold or feel your son again are all things I prayed would not be taken away from you. Again, your quality of life was essential to me. You are young, a relatively new mother, and have so much energy ahead of you. I did not and do not ever want that for you.
How were you able to cope?
You actually helped me cope. I was beside myself for a couple of days, and you called to check on me. I was so upset with myself because you were supposed to be receiving support from me, but instead, you were making sure I was okay. Seeing that strength from you at that moment made me realize that you were not going to let MS win.
Did you do any research?
I did. I wanted to understand the symptoms you were having at the time and make sure it was normal for people with MS. I also needed to know what treatments were out there, the symptoms you could experience over time, and life expectancy rates. I probably went down a bit of a rabbit hole, but I did not care. After researching MS and what medicine is doing to treat individuals, I have better knowledge of the disease and its progression.
What advice do you have for others on how to support their friends with MS?
Be supportive. Understand what your friends are going through. Do your research. If your friend is having an episode, do what you can to help them. If you’re like me and are far away, check on them. It is important to let loved ones know that they are not alone and have your support no matter what. Always keep their spirits up.
Any additional comments?
Just know, you will never fight MS alone. I am here always.
Have you ever experienced a "weird" symptom and wondered if others with MS have experienced it too?