I am a member of several different Multiple Sclerosis sites and read the thoughts of MS patients and caregivers alike. The caregivers may be spouses, parents, children, friends, or those who provide care under the umbrella of the actual profession. Amidst the remarks left that offer empathy and encourage hope and positive thinking are also the despondent, depressed, sad, lonely and angry comments. I indentify with the emotional rollercoaster as much as I appreciate the support of our caregivers and loved ones. I'm going to share a bit of advice for each side, for those of us who've 'had it up to here' with MS' shenanigans on every level. That advice is to S.T.O.P.
When you have had it up to here with MS...
Surround yourself with a support network of family, friends, support group(s) or all of the above.
Tell (or write) your story, your experiences, your journey.
Participating in a support group usually prompts the sharing of personal experiences and the offering of emotional comfort and moral support for one another. They may also offer practical advice and tips (such as to S.T.O.P.) to help cope with the issue at hand, such as illness, bereavement, or other detrimental circumstances. The advantage in participating is that those in like situations can have the ability to help members feel less lonely, isolated or judged.
Finding your voice
Find the courage and gumption to share what you have endured, are enduring and, if applicable, how you're managing. Get it out. Keeping things inside only perpetuates a build-up of frustration, depression, and confusion. This would be a good time to S.T.O.P. Finding your voice - whether written or oral - can lead to a sense of peace and a hopefulness that wasn't present previously.
Power of postivity
"Beyond medical care, the way you approach life can also influence your condition."
"Remaining positive is important in multiple sclerosis for many reasons."
"There is ample data to indicate that depressed moods tend to magnify symptomatic issues. Pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues can be worsened as a person's mood declines."
These are all statements made by Dr. Benjamin M. Greenberg, MD, MHS, deputy director of the multiple sclerosis program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Hence, there is indeed a connection - feeling good mentally can help your dire circumstances if only to give you a better outlook, if only to make you aware to S.T.O.P. The National MS Society provides people living with MS a tool to assist in identifying approaches in which to support continuous happiness, even in the face of adversity. It is titled Everyday Matters and you can learn more by clicking on this link.
Listen to your body
MS is so unpredictable. Even with the use of DMTs and symptom management medications, you can't truly control MS challenges all the time - if any of the time. Learn your body. Listen to your body. Do what you can when and if you can. Recognize it's not your fault. Try not to beat yourself up and just....S.T.O.P.
How we respond to adverse situations
It is often said that it’s not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens that makes all the difference. Since we have the gift of choosing how we do so, when adverse situations arise - such as an MS diagnosis - I encourage us all to simply take the time to S.T.O.P.
How well do people around you understand MS?