It was nearly four years ago that I was diagnosed with MS. And for me it was rather a shock. Before I started acquiring my weird collection of symptoms (have buzzy feet, seeing two pigeons outside when there was only one…) I had never even heard of MS.
It took rather a long time for me to get my diagnosis, and when I finally did, although there was some physical help available, there seemed to be very little for mental health side of things (I wasn’t offered any at the time). Which resulted in me feeling a bit lost and scared about it all. Dealing with an MS diagnosis can be super difficult, even more so than the physical side sometimes.
It took me a little while to find ways of helping to cope mentally with my diagnosis, but after some time and research I did discover quite a few! And this is a little list of ones that have helped me. 🙂
1. Talk to others
This can be really difficult, especially when it’s sometimes hard even knowing quite how you are feeling, but it’s also super important. Being told you have MS is a lot to take in, and it’s too much to try and deal with on your own. Talking to someone can help to process the situation and make you feel supported. You can talk to someone you know (a friend or family member), or someone you don’t, such as a counsellor. I also found having a little chat to my dog helped a lot too. 🙂
2. Don’t put pressure on yourself
I’m definitely someone who does this! And I think most people do it, whether they have MS or not, but it can be hard to accept that we may not be able to do everything exactly the same as we could before. I definitely didn’t need to sleep as much as I do now! But it’s important to not put added pressure on yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s all that matters.
3. Look after yourself
With MS it is vital to look after yourself, and this goes a long way to helping care for your mental health. Try to get plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours), spend time relaxing, exercising (even if it’s just a little bit), and eating healthy (with the odd treat of course). It’s also vital to listen to your body, and learn how to put yourself first. Don’t feel guilty about taking the odd day out just to do the things that you enjoy. 🙂
4. Find out all about MS
It can be really helpful to find out all about MS. Be careful with going google happy (which I did a lot of), and stick to the main websites, which provide loads of reliable information and support. You can even read about other people’s experiences, and keep up to date with all the latest research.
5. Connect with others
It is great to connect with others who have also been diagnosed with MS. This might be through an online platform (such as Shift.ms), a support group near you, or at one of your local MS centres. Having someone else to chat to about all the random symptoms and experiences that come with MS can help you to process the situation, and too also help you know that you are not alone. You might also find that you make some amazing friends along the way. 🙂
6. Find out about what services are available
Take the time to find out what is available. This one can take a while (it took me ages!), but for most of us there are many options in our areas. There are many great online services (which we can all access), MS Therapy Centres, MS meetings, hydrotherapy and counselling, to name a few. All of these can help you when you are first diagnosed, but also throughout your adventures with MS.
7. Do what’s right for you
It’s important to remember that this is your body and your health. Lots of people like to offer advice (and they are only trying to help), but at the end of the day it is you who has been diagnosed. Do what is right for you, and do what makes you happy. 🙂
The important thing when being diagnosed with MS is to remember that you are not alone, and that you will get through this. Being diagnosed with MS is a huge experience, but it’s not the end of the world, and many people go on to lead normal and happy lives with the condition. 🙂
Hi, I’m Heather, a 29-year-old actor, teacher and MS Society Support Volunteer, who lives in England and was diagnosed with MS nearly 4 years ago.
In my spare time, I love reading, writing and just generally pottering around. I also enjoy writing my own blog, where I document my adventures with MS, with the help of my trusted companion, the knitted donkey, Dizzy. If you would like too, you can pop over and visit us at dinosaursdonkeysandms.com
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