Tips on Living with the Emotional Side of Multiple Sclerosis
Last updated: October 2022
I recently went to see a Broadway show in New York City about the life and music of Carole King. I had my heart set on seeing “Beautiful” but told myself on the ride into Manhattan that tickets would probably be unavailable. I’ve had a difficult year and not much has been in my favor. I thought I’d have to settle for my second or third choice. I began to cry.
Much to my surprise, tickets were not only available but the seats were located in the fifteenth row, middle orchestra. I was finally going to see the musical I’ve been dying to see about one of my favorite singers in seats that were perfectly situated. I began to cry.
I cried and cried
I offered my profuse thanks to the man in the booth who sold us the tickets and also to the security guard who showed us which counter was for people with disabilities to buy tickets. The two men probably thought I was crazy because my emotions were so open and raw that I cried and cried in front of them. I was overwhelmed with happiness. My display of affection was a bit over the top.
MS and emotions running wild
I can cry at the drop of the hat. This is not my typical behavior, but I’ve noticed over the past year how easily I cry and it’s driving me nuts. I cry at inappropriate times, and when I’m done, I feel embarrassed. My emotions are running wild and out of my control. I believe this is due to MS.
You can lean on others
The emotional toll of living with Multiple Sclerosis can affect your mental health. MS can wear you down until you feel like giving up. Don’t. Ours is a difficult journey that can be filled with loneliness, depression, or anger, but it’s also a disease shared by thousands and thousands of people worldwide. For whatever it’s worth, please remember that you are not alone. You can lean on others to help ease your way.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s article about emotional changes outlines a few emotions you might be experiencing such as grief, changes in mood, depression, stress, generalized anxiety and distress, moodiness and irritability, and inappropriate behavior.
Addressing each emotion
These are all common behaviors that can be found in newly diagnosed patients as well as those living with MS for decades. Each emotion should be addressed by either sharing what you’re feeling with trusted friends or family or by reaching out to a qualified therapist. Therapy, medication, and communication can help you deal with your emotions.
Speak to your doctor about any emotions that worry you. Your family doctor, neurologist or mental health specialist can help you with the tools you need by offering counseling sessions, antidepressants, mood stabilizers or anti-anxiety medications
Tips and steps to take
Here are a few steps you can take on your own to help get your emotions under control:
- Delegate - Delegate tasks to others to help you feel less overwhelmed and anxious.
- Communicate - Communicate to trusted family and friends about what you’re feeling. This can help to relieve anxiety and stress.
- Support - Support is crucial and a good place to start is by finding a support group where you feel comfortable talking about what you’re feeling.
- Tell others - Discuss your emotions before they happen by letting others know this is part of your MS.
- Practice yoga, mindful meditation or deep breathing.
- Be quiet - Take time to be quiet and think through your feelings. Sometimes you’ll find that what you thought was scary or hurtful is not that way at all. The stories you tell yourself are sometimes ones that are not part of reality.
- Stay active - Staying active can positively affect your mood and well-being and is a good time for personal reflection.
The right combination of social support, therapy, medication and healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way to positively affect our emotions.
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