Last reply 1 year ago
How Do You Handle Stress? I HANDLE IT!!!

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicole and I am new to Shift. MS. This is my first post. I was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS in December of 2015. For me, it was a quick diagnosis. One July evening I went to bed and awoke the next morning with my left hand numb. I, of course, went through the typical thoughts of thinking that I slept on my arm too long or that I must have had it in an awkward position all night, but throughout the day the numbness only increased and soon the numbness began to engulf my arm moving up to my shoulder. I went to the GP, then to a Neurologist then to a Rheumatologist and had all the blood tests to rule out this and that, on to a new Neurologist where I had the pleasure of partaking in a lumbar puncture, and further MRIs which revealed multiple small brain lesions and a cervical spine lesion.

On some level the diagnosis wasn’t too much of a shock, I kind of already had a deep sense that I had MS. I had been struggling since my late 20s with bouts of this and that. Things like double vision, joint pain or that burning leg pain, hip pain, cramping in my arches of my feet, tingling in my hands every so often, fatigue. Yet the symptoms would come and go. I sought out doctors over the years only to be told I looked good, everything checked out ok, it must be stress so here are some anti-depressants. What! No, I knew it wasn’t just stress. Ugh! Embarrassed I was done looking. I figured at that point if something was wrong with me it would make itself known and then I would have the last laugh! I’d prove I was right all along and have one of those funny tombstones that read “I Told You I Was Sick”. Of course rethinking that idea I thought I wouldn’t really be the winner in that situation so I tried my best to overcome what had become constant health issues by involving myself with mindfulness and meditation, clean eating and exercise.

I did well for awhile with long bouts of finding my center so to speak before becoming frequently derailed due to feeling the need to tend more attentively to my family. I am the kind of person who is a very responsible, likes everything to be in its place, I think ahead, prepare and go out of my way to make sure everyone is comfortable and provided for. I take great pride in tending to my family, my two girls 10- 14, my husband and home. But I have lost the motivation it seems to really step back and take care of me in the way I once was which I know could help heal me in terms of stress. I do small things like write and draw and I love photography but it isn’t consistent. Every day I tell myself I should exercise but I don’t even though I have a treadmill, stationary bike, weights and DVD workout videos at the ready here at home. I get caught up in keeping up. And I can’t keep up.

Before I know it, its late in the day and my kids are coming home from school and then it’s off and running to their dance classes and piano class, driving them here and there, homework assistance, dinner, dishes, etc. I know its life but it’s exhausting. My kids do help out, as does my husband so I am grateful. I have talked to all of them about my fatigue or certain limitations but they can’t truly understand especially when one day my actions demonstrate that I am energized and the next day I feel like I need to be on the couch every 30 minutes. They can’t fully understand that on the days it appears I am easily running around, in reality, I am just pushing myself. I get it, I know they have compassion, but I still am frustrated, I think I am frustrated with myself.

My husband works late hours so by the time he arrives home it’s near 10 pm and then I feel I need to sit up and talk with him so we can connect when really I should be asleep. I want to tell him my concerns and I do, but I don’t want that to be the source of our conversations, stress, illness and worries. So I feel a bit isolated with my feelings. Add to this my parents have temporarily moved in while their new home is being built for them. They sold their two-story house for a new single level home which will make it easier for my father who has Parkinson’s safer to walk around. But of course, I am feeling overly protective of him too as he is here. And finally my brother and sister in law’s 6-month-old son is being brought over to my house since both of them work and my mother watches him on Mondays and Tuesdays. I (apparently having taken crazy pills) agreed to watch him every Wednesday. He is adorable and I love him. But it’s a lot. Now I find myself staying up even later in the evening once everyone is asleep because the house is quiet and I can have my time which is, on one hand good, but not so much for feeling energized by the morning.

So I am struggling to get back to that place I once was, calmer, less anxious, allowing myself to focus on me more. I find myself becoming resentful a bit, at who I don’t know. I am struggling to workout, and just feel overwhelmed in general. I know you all have been there, so I don’t know what I am really asking for by this post other than a place to rant. I worry about my future and I worry a bit about wasting time not doing the things I want to do while I can because I am so preoccupied with doing for others. I think on some level I have been in denial about my MS and I am just keeping myself overly busy.

I know I have to make time for me there is nothing else to say, I am after all blessed to be able to get around very well. You wouldn’t know anything is wrong with me by looking at me. My family loves me and I know I have their support, I just have a hard time letting go and stepping back and I think my family feels helpless sometimes with knowing how to help. So sometimes I feel stuck and that creates stress. How do you handle stress? Thanks for reading my post and feel free to friend request me. 🙂

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1 year ago

Hi @mscole, I very much relate to your post and I would imagine many others would. For me, I have started keeping a private blog which I can invite people to if I want to – so far only one person – and I use it to organise my thoughts or rant. I spilled out my journey has been up to now, how I felt about my diagnosis and came to the conclusion that there are 5 new ways of living I need to learn if I’m going to be able to live with this without feeling like I’m pushing a boulder uphill. I also use the blog to put bits of research I’ve found that are relevant to me. That helps for me. I don’t want all my conversations to be taken up with MS, I also don’t want it to be the elephant in the room…I don’t think I’ve found the balance yet!

I was only diagnosed 2 months ago so some stress is about trying to take that in and what that means but also about the time it takes to do that while I’m also trying to do other things. I had symptoms for years before that, so was already having to accommodate them, and there’s stress in trying to do my work (and live my life) when I have those symptoms, and then just life stress, stuff just happens and it’s stressful.

In terms of “techniques” for when life gets stressful I know mindfulness has a good rep…I have done some mindfulness but clearly not enough, I had a migraine 1 to 2 times a week every week between diagnosis and my first appointment with the MS nurse 8 weeks later!

At the end of your post you talk about the things that are good and remembering them is always important, you could keep mementos to remind you of what you are thankful for or that make you feel good. A quick one is to think, at the end of each day, of one thing that day that was good, one thing where someone did something nice for you, one nice thing you did for someone else, and one thing you were proud of – the beauty of that is if you have a particularly awful day that could be that someone brought you a cup of tea (a nice thing for you) and you said how thankful you were (a nice thing for them), that would be a good thing to do that day, and you could be proud that you were able to make a connection with someone when you felt so rubbish.

And keep using Shift 🙂

1 year ago

Hi Nicole,
Your post speaks volumes to me. I felt so sad reading it as you sound just like me, but I am not so good at putting my thoughts on paper. I too have children and run around after all of them, it means the world to me to be a good mum but it has been so tough this last year with these invisible symptoms. I have not been diagnosed yet and am waiting on another MRI. My first MRI had multiple lesions but after a negative lumbar puncture I have to wait. I have actually not been posting on this site as not having been diagnosed has made me feel like I shouldn’t which I know is wrong but I feel so isolated at present too and motivation is very low. I can so understand what you mean about running around one day and exhaustion the next. My husband was a police man and retrained to be a primary school teacher. He is in his probationary year and such a steep learning curve at the age of 49. I feel his needs are so much greater than mine, even though he is an amazing man who really does try to understand. I have been off work for 2 months and that is adding to my stress. I am a health visitor and work 3 days. Juggling 6 children, 4 who are teenagers has just taken it’s toll and I wonder what else I can do. Going to yoga at night is great but I sleep in the class and am then awake afterwards even though I am exhausted. I have signed up for a session on mindfullness so I am hoping this helps and there is also a website called headspace which gives you a 10 minute relaxation session. I am meeting two women from work today and I know they will tell me and say I look well.!!! I would feel like such a fraud if I didn’t feel my legs on fire and lightheaded. Anyway, I can totally relate to you. I think this site and the people who post are amazing . It has def helped.

1 year ago

@mscole hello dear, i really enjoyed reading your post, because for some reasons i found myself in it. I also try to do everything although i cant. I clean up the whole house, which is very big (three stores) and then my relatives simultaneously make it dirty again by walking hundred times over the stairs and floors. And then when they do something start to utter sound like they would have carried 50kilograms over a mile, whereby i actually do everything so that they can relax and do the things they want (reading, watching tv and so on). This is really annoying and i want to reduce my ambitions to have a spotless house, but it is more than hard. Also want to do exercises which would benefit me and as you i also simply cant find neither the time nor the motivation. We also have a cat, which i love more than everything and he is adoringly cute and smart, however my family spoiled him so that he starts screaming for no reason which makes me really unhappy. As for meditationm, it is a total no go, because i live 2 meters away from the main street, so there is no silence even when i close my window.
But this week i made myself a workout plan and im kind of fulffiling it. I placed the chores aside, closed myself in my room where i just do workouts. I think there is no way to overcome stress, because it comes from nowhere and from no reason, just try to accomodate yourself to it. As for you question about a place to rant you can always go ooutside if you are near a forest or a field and scream out there or a friend of mine had similar issues and bought herself a punching bag and said that it really reduced her inner anger. 🙂
No matter what you do dont forget to put yourself in first position, always. Avoid people who dont understand your issues, and dont waste neither your time nor your nerves on them. Ok, your family is an exception, because they are your loved ones and im more than sure that they feel compassion for you.
SMile everyday it helps believe me. 🙂

1 year ago

I think you should give up stressing about the stress. Your home is a never ending supply of stress right now and you are going to have to go with the flow until your house is back to normal. Let is wash over you like a ocean wave. I went to a physical therapist when I was first diagnosed and she gave me a list of exercises to do that help with balance and walking. Someone like a therapist might get you motivated to exercise again. I feel like exercising really helps with my stress because I know I am doing something that is working. Potter

1 year ago

Im reading this and it sounds very much like my life too @mscole I was diagnosed earlier this year and have been rethinking lots of things in my life and how to handle stress. Ive found myself just taking mental step back from things I do that create stress. Like im watching it as an outsider when things get busy or too much. Im sure thatll change as time goes on but thats the way things are now. Im 40 with a 5 year old daughter and a police officer

Hi @mscole,

My wife finds that for her stress sleep is very restorative. She has ms and seems like she handles stress similarly. On days when she works from home or the weekend I encourage her to take a nap. She has more energy the rest of the day and that by itself or some other reason seems to reduce her stress. She feels guilty about doing that but I tell her just do the math: by the end of the day you get more done, are happier and is probably better for her ms. No reason to feel guilty.

We are also starting to practice mindfulness with an app for about ten minutes a day.

1 year ago

What wonderful responses! Thank you all so very much! I am trying to respond to each of your comments individually but for some reason hitting the reply link is bringing me to just one post comment box at the bottom of the page, so this may just become a universal response. But I will try to send this to nicecupof tea first. Sorry if it doesn’t work, perhaps it’s just the user who knows.

@nicecupof tea those are great suggestions. I think having gratitude is particularly important even on your worse day as it can remind you to find a blessing and change your perspective. Things can always be worse and there is a saying fake it until you make it, so finding happiness in everything from kind actions to a smile is all worthwhile efforts. Keep writing it can be very therapeutic and help you keep track of your thoughts. I know just writing this post helped me feel acknowledged and not so alone in the process, so thank you for that. I too have a blog the link is on my profile, however, it is a creative writing blog with poem/stories/photography which is an outlet for my imagination. Your welcome to stop by there too. Best of luck to you!

1 year ago

@kateybash Hi and thank you for your response! You know my lumbar puncture was negative too. But with multiple symptoms and new ones continuing like Lhermitte’s sign, plus new lesions appearing over time from the last MRI (MS can be qualified by the MRI when it demonstrates lesion dissemination in time (DIT) and space (DIS). ) Perhaps you are already aware of this but if not hopefully this is helpful:

MRI criteria for DIS are as follows:

At least 1 T2-weighted lesion in at least 2 of 4 locations considered characteristic for MS (juxtacortical, periventricular, infratentorial, and spinal cord)
If brain imaging fails to demonstrate DIS, then imaging of the spinal cord may be helpful in demonstrating a least a single T2-weighted hyperintense lesion of 3 mm or greater dimension, less than 2 vertebral bodies in length, and involving less than the cord cross-section.

MRI criteria for DIT are as follows:

A new T2-weighted and/or gadolinium-enhancing lesion(s) on follow-up MRI, with reference to baseline MRI irrespective of time of initial imaging
The simultaneous presence of asymptomatic gadolinium-enhancing and non-enhancing lesions at any time.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about posting and I am glad you commented. You have valid concerns and it isn’t easy sorting through all the information online has to offer regarding this disease. Matter of fact the internet can be a scary place to learn about any disease. It’s hard to sort through anecdotal versus factual information and support is important to help you be better informed. That’s why I am here and for comradery. It sounds like your husband has a lot going on right now but so do you! 6 children! You’re a better woman than I, LOL! I love my girls but yes the teenage years are wearing on me. It’s hard to be present for your family when there is only so much you can give before your tapped out. I hate the thought of looking at my calendar and saying, well if I do this tomorrow then the next day may be a wash and I will have to just relax. But pacing myself and taking it slow and being patient is what MS is teaching me. One way or another MS is trying to teach me to be kind to myself. I guess that isn’t so bad. Best of luck on your journey!

1 year ago

@matic91 Hi thanks for your comment! 3 stories to clean, wow I am tired just thinking about that! Ha. It is hard to let go sometimes ok most times for me too. But MS is forcing me to slow down and rethink what needs to done and has to be done and what can wait a little bit. Putting things in perspective I guess you would say. Still, it’s easier said than done. I am the type of person who feels more organized and relaxed when my surroundings are in order. It’s hard enough with children to keep everything in place especially with all the running around we do, but more so now with my parents living here. My family helps out so it isn’t all so bad. What I have noticed however over the past few years and more so now though is that my tolerance for noise and all the activity and hustle and bustle of everyone kind of agitates me. I often feel after a full day of everyone around me that I need to retreat and decompress or something. So it has been a bit complicated as of late. Pets help out tremendously. I use to have a black short hair cat named Sasha. She had beautiful green eyes. Sadly she passed away a few years ago. My children then wanted a dog. So now I have an adorable Goldendoodle. She is very in tuned to me and a great snuggler. You started working out good for you, don’t stop baby steps right? Best of luck to you!

1 year ago

@potter Hi there, your right. I know I have to just put things aside. I should be using this time to focus even more on me since I have built in childcare assistance right now. I need to be more forthcoming with my needs and speak up I guess. I keep thinking how great it would be if I started working out and then saw results and maybe by my birthday I would look like this or that and feel better. Regret is awful but so is anxiety and sometimes I think darn it, I didn’t do what I said I was going to do today and what if a relapse happens and I become stricken with something and it keeps me from pursuing the things I could have done all along. Then I become angry with myself for wasting time. Ok yes, I just re-read all of that. Therapy sounds good. LOL Thanks for your comment.

1 year ago

@molineux1047 Hi and thank you for leaving a comment. It sounds like you are at a very pivotal moment in your life. Which can be a good thing! Not that MS is good, but maybe it can be on some level. 40 years old is a time for reflection, as is this diagnosis, reviewing how you want to live your life for you and your daughter.

I have many family members who are police officers including a brother and my father who has since retired. I know the stress of living in a family where a parent is an officer. I worried from time to time about my father going to work. Not that my father stressed me out over his career choice, I wasn’t too aware of the dangers he was faced with when I was younger, but eventually, an awareness grew. So I am sure you are faced with having to assess and double care for yourself making sure you are healthy and keeping safe, especially in today’s global environment. It sounds like you have the beginnings of a good handle on your stress and are trying to keep it in check, I wish you the very best.

1 year ago

@californiadreamin I like your name choice! Getting on a better sleep pattern is one of my goals. I too feel guilty taking a nap or sleeping in. You sound very supportive of your wife’s needs and I am sure she appreciates the opportunity to rest.

Sleep is healing and I have to be better at knowing when I should just give myself a break. I need to remember that even though during the day I feel relatively fine if I don’t cut out some time to rest by the evening I can become rather crabby and impatient simply because I am tired. And then I don’t feel good about being that way to my kids or husband and I simply don’t feel good, period.

My husband has been supportive too and I am thankful for him letting me sleep in while he tends to the kids in the morning but I try not to do that too often. Still, I have to let go with feeling guilty because the guilt of being a crabby Mom outweighs the guilt of napping or calling it an early night and having a better mindset and health. Thanks for leaving a comment!

1 year ago

@mscole well in the past ive been doing this exercises regularly and through new ms symptoms i added new exercises, then i had to erase certain ones, because they were to hard for me and now yesterday i made two sets of stretch exercises and today my muscles are so pulled however im not giving up and i will get back in track like in the past and then feel brilliant again. Balance is kind of not a problem because i can sit on that balance gym ball for over an hour without touching the ground with my feet, my greatest issue is muscle strenght sometimes i feel like i had toothpicks as arms and legs, especcially legs, now i found certain stepper and stationary bike exercises with which i am very comfortable. I totally agree with you on the loss of tolerance for noise, i always kind of start shaking if someone quickly opens or shuts the door and i cannot control that feeling. Besides i have also have that strange feeling that everyone is watching me and it makes me nervous. As you see i still have many things in my head and body which i have to put in order. Now i found certain friends who have MS and we always laugh for hours, if that goes on ill get sixpack from laughing not working out. 🙂 🙂 🙂 do you have some MS meetings or courses in your area?
Best of luck to you 🙂

1 year ago

@matic91 Yes, I have a group nearby. I went a few times and I hate to say this but it was just boring and unorganized and well everyone just complained. Which on one hand was interesting because I had those Aha moments like Ok so I am not the only one who sometimes has to deal with this or that. But overall it was just a lot of doom and gloom feelings. It didn’t help that I was the youngest one in the group. So despite the group having topics listed on the meeting schedules, it just didn’t feel that I belonged. I was looking for more proactive conversations and educational topics.

I also am not taking any medication after feeling as if I aged to an 80-year-old overnight after 6 months of using Rebif. I couldn’t take the injections anymore, the bruising, the flu side effects and then horrible migraines. I spent more time in bed ill than I did having MS alone. Plus I had a relapse while on it so in my mind I wasn’t sure I wanted to take any more medication. It’s a personal choice, I wouldn’t tell someone what to do with their decisions only then to try and educate themselves as much as possible. Personally, I don’t think any of the medications sound all that thrilling with all the side effects. But you do what you have to do. I, however, felt shamed by some of the group over not taking anything and since I feel relatively normal it made me feel awkward compared to those there. Other groups are quite far away. So this is why online seemed to make sense to me.

1 year ago

@mscole oh thats sad 🙁 yeah in this case you are right i also sometimes rather avoid waiting on my neurologist in the waiting room, because there the people are so scared and isolated and some just as you said complain. Well in our group we mostly talk about everyday lives what went right, what the accomplished and so on. Well there are also no younger people but i feel comfortable.
i also read about the bad effects of Rebif but hey that was in the past and we live in the present 🙂

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