Socializing & Multiple Sclerosis
Have you ever had someone tell you that you don’t like to go out, ever? Maybe you seem to like to stay home instead of going out with friends? This is what I like to refer to in my previous article as, “I’m a Homebody”. However, this isn’t saying that I don’t want to go out and have fun with friends, just that I need to prepare for it, not do it all the time, etc.
Why is this? How do we explain to others that we aren’t just lazy? How do we express that we really DO want to go out and have fun, but have limitations? This is something I have a hard time coming to terms with at times.
I think some people take my rejection of wanting to go out as me just not wanting to go have fun, especially if it’s a last minute decision sort of thing. Sometimes it might be true that I don’t want to go out, because let's face it, there are times where the couch has just too much pull on certain days.
Needing notice about upcoming plans
So, why do we need to have notice about upcoming plans? Why can’t we just go out at last minute's notice? Well, we can, if needed, but it’s not like we want to. So, say I get invited to go out to a dance hall, to socialize, have some drinks and dance, something that I love doing, even after being diagnosed with MS. Let me walk you through how it goes through my mind… maybe this happens with you as well.
I know what going out will do to me
Well, I need notice so that I can plan for going out. I’m not just talking about what I am going to wear, etc. I’m talking about: I need to take it easy the days leading up to going out, and I might need to ‘schedule’ a nap in during the day, before going out. It’s because I know what going out will do to me. If I don’t plan accordingly, I won’t have as much fun as possible.
Believe it or not, showers for me are a chore. They are something that makes me tired, but having to ‘get ready’ after a shower is even more tiresome. I know, most people that don’t have MS don’t see how this can be tiring, but it is - trust me.
My dress code
Now, also keep in mind that right now where I live, it’s still in the 90’s at 10pm, so I need to make sure that I dress appropriately, not only for the weather but for the establishment. One thing I do love about going out to the local dance hall with friends is that I can wear my cowboy boots. Why is this good? Let’s just say that heels and I have a love-hate relationship. They love to torture me and make me fall more than usual, and I hate them with a passion. Okay, ladies that wear heels easily going out or on a regular basis, kudos to you. Women that wear heels and have MS… you’re amazing. Let me remind y’all that I’m a tomboy, and my shoes consist of flip-flops, tennis shoes, boots… and of course, barefoot.
When it comes to my closet in general, I have a collection of T-Shirts and a limited amount of dressy clothes, and I think I have one dress in there - that I wore once, for a wedding. My husband has more clothes and shoes than I do, to give you a better understanding.
Allowing enough time to get ready
So, once I have pre-planned everything to go out, I make sure I allow myself enough time to get ready. I know, they say girls take a LONG time getting ready, but it’s not what you think. It’s not that I take a very long time to actually get ready, it’s that I need breaks from doing my hair, etc. I used to not need this and could be ready in no time at all. Having long hair, it feels like taming my hair to go out is an exercise at times. Why don’t I cut it? Because I just can’t…. I love long hair; it fits in ponytails better.
It's easier when staying in
I’ve had someone close to me ask me in the past, how come I seem to do better if we’re having a get together at my house, compared to going out? When I’m at home, I don’t have to get dressed up. Just jeans, a t-shirt, flip-flops and I’m good. I also don’t have to stress about what I might need to bring with me, cause I have it at my fingertips if I’m at home. This is in regards to medication mainly. I hate purses too, by the way. The less I have to carry the better, and when you go out to a dance hall/club, you don’t see a lot of people with a purse/handbag with them. It’s too much hassle to carry around.
I also think that having a social gathering at my house is easier for me mentally, rather than going out. Why? Because I just have this reassurance with me that I can rest, peacefully, if needed. I know where everything is, most of the time… I do have my lovely Cog-Fog issues that increase in severity if I’m up late, stressed, tired, etc.
I have help
How is it easier having people over at my house, rather than going out… don’t I have to clean, etc.? Yes, I do… but I have help w/ my husband and kids, thankfully. Also, I live on a little bit of property, not in a neighborhood, so we mostly stay outside. Play some games like washers, corn-hole, etc.
Plus, there is the fact that most of my close friends know me well, and know my ‘style’, so there is no judgment in what I’m wearing, how my hair is, etc. I mean, even if I do take the time to do my hair, it will more than likely end up in a ponytail at some point during the night.
We pick and choose our battles
Anyways, I’m rambling now. I just wanted to give a bit of insight on why it’s hard to go out with friends to social gatherings, etc. It’s not that we don’t want to socialize… it’s just that we pick and choose our battles with MS. Because, in my case at least, I will ‘pay for it’ the next day, maybe two… maybe a week? There is no ‘guarantee’ or ‘guide’ to let us know what will happen to us if we do certain activities. Why? Well, I wrote about that in, “It All Depends”.
I’m gonna end it on that note, might revisit this subject in the future, but my brain can only handle so much writing/thinking at once.
“My courage is stronger than my fear.” - Anonymous
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?