Is my head in or out of the sand?

Yesterday was a step for me. I had my first ‘therapy’ session. I recently spoke with my neurologist (well, the PA) about some of the feelings I had been having lately and not being sure whether they were related to post-partum depression, MS-depression, or just depression-depression. She suggested I meet with a lady [LCSW] at the Rocky Mountain MS Center who specializes in MS and ‘talk.’ It sounded like a plan to me! I do a lot of talking already for my career and just in life so this would likely work well [hopefully].

I almost felt like I knew the therapist already anyway. She writes extensively for various MS publications and I always find myself reading her articles, putting my hand in the air, saying, ‘yep, that’s ME.’ As we started to talk, I felt at ease and for once, was not having trouble finding the words I wanted to say [I also came with notes]. She interjected only when appropriate, and provided meaningful insights about what is going on in my head!

What seems to be going on in said head is that I want to just put it in the sand and not have MS. Of course that’s true! Isn’t that what we all want? To not have MS? What’s ALSO going on though is the knowledge that I cannot do that, so I pull my head out of the sand, try to figure out what I ‘should’ be doing and maybe do it or maybe stick my head back in, knowing that I will pull it out again soon. It’s EXHAUSTING she told me, and she’s right! Also exhausting are the major life changes that have occurred in my life the past 3 years [MS diagnosis & the birth of 2 beautiful babies]. For a person who likes to have a plan [yep, that’s ME], MS throws a curveball that is not wanted or welcome in life. I have to remember that just as plans changed when my children were born, plans will likely change from time-to-time because of MS. I am looking forward to meeting with the therapist again in a few weeks and hopefully sorting out even more of what is always running through this head of mine!

A few take-aways that I wanted to share are as follows:

  1. Many people ‘hit a wall’ around the 3-5 year post-diagnosis point. Your symptoms may have been pretty idle in the past but sometimes start to remind you a bit more frequently that you do in fact HAVE MS.
  2. Living with MS means you have to expend more each day that someone not living with it. It may not be a ‘lot’ more each day, but it will add up and eventually have you struggling with the extra given.
  3. Depression can look different with MS. She asked me what I thought depression looked like and I gave her my best lay-person impression. She reminded me that it is ok to have that medical ‘boost’ to not feel so tightly-wound [ever yell out an expletive because you cannot find a breast-pump part and are running late? Yeah, me either…] or being pulled in too many directions. Sometimes something has to give. When the words ‘exhausted’ and ‘overwhelmed’ become your go-to for how you are feeling, that is when it is time.
  4. It is OK to not have all of the answers. I need to remember that just over 3 years ago, I was not living with this disease [it was in my family but I had not been diagnosed]. As much as I want to be informed and stay up-to-date, it is also OK to just listen to the experts sometimes as they have been dealing with MS for much longer.
  5. Talk with people and let them know how you are feeling. Maybe that person can help you sort all of the things running through your head out. I am going to meet with this therapist again. If that is not something you are comfortable with, just find someone to talk to.
  6. Keep your head out of the sand! Some people really are comfortable with the approach of not taking an approach to their MS but I cannot do that.
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