The Importance of Getting Away
When people ask me for tips on living with multiple sclerosis, I jump to the really common ones, like finding a good MS specialist, getting on a disease-modifying medication, and starting to take better care of their body. Another important piece of advice I like to give them is to remember to get away from the disease. As someone who has difficulty traveling because of his symptoms, I am most certainly not suggesting physically getting away, rather, I’m talking about mentally. MS is a disease that can consume your thoughts if you let it. So, I find it extremely important to be able to step away from this mindset. It’s important to get away from this disease.
MS is ever in our thoughts
No one wants to think about their illness all the time, it just happens. When a disease can have the impact the MS can, it’s hard not to think about it a lot. The heavy and draining fatigue that stops us in our tracks and can impact every part of our day. The sometimes constant uncomfortableness because of tremors or spasms. The burning nerve pain that makes many of us want to leave our bodies. And of course, any discussion on thinking about the disease simply must mention the constant concern of what our future may hold because of it. There are many reasons that make it hard to not think about our illness and the body it’s left us with. While some people have occasional issues, there are many that have every bit of their existence hampered by this disease.
It’s important to “get away”
A good mindset is important for everyone, even more so if you live with an incurable disease. I’m not trotting out the cliched “be more positive” bit, enough people do that already. However, the more we are forced to think about our disease, the more stress that creates. As I’ve written before, stress and MS are a very bad combination. With stress being a common trigger for those with MS, we can end up worsening our symptoms by fixating on our illness too much. Talk about a recipe for disaster, thinking about our illness too much stresses us out, making our symptoms worse, so we then think about it even more and repeat the process! Yeah, living with this disease isn’t easy!
So what do we do? A number of folks out there don’t have this issue, maybe their disease hasn’t progressed as much as others, or maybe they have found some other ways to keep their mind on an even keel. There are also many people, like me, who are disabled and spend a ton of time alone and at home. I’ll tell you, it can be hard not to think about anything and everything related to your illness when you are in that situation. Not only because of the constant issues, but because I am home and alone because of the disease. It’s only natural for our minds to gravitate to that topic.
Finding something to occupy our minds
If you don’t find something to occupy your mind, then that thought process will eat you up. I wrote a while back that it’s important to find a passion in something. Finding something enjoyable to occupy your mind with is essential to living with a chronic illness. Whether it be collecting toys like me, following a new sport, reading, volunteering, or any other kind of hobby, it’s important to give yourself something else to think about. It’s crucial to let your mind “get away” from your illness.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?