How to manage MS symptoms and still feel like a woman

In this video Polly interviews Marlo who is a Expert MSer. The interview was filmed by Katharine

Video transcript

Any tips on how to manage your MS symptoms and still feel like a woman?

I think there’s a lot of aspects that go with feeling like a woman, whether it’s just femininity or whether it’s feeling… I think it should have a level of strength when I think about being a woman anyway. I think we all have an inner strength that we have to remind ourselves of. I do think that you have to again, like what we were saying about being kind to yourself, you have to remember that you need to take time out for yourself, maybe get a babysitter, have date nights, if you’re with your partner it’s something that’s really important. I think fatigue is something that is a battle for many of us and especially in feeling feminine and feeling whether you’re feeling like a mum, like a wife, whatever it is. But you do need to take that time out for yourself and do whatever you need to to battle the fatigue, you know, if it’s something, whether it’s exercise, if it’s something that, if it’s a medication or a supplement that your doctor is recommending, do those things that can help the fatigue and see if that is something that makes you feel really more alive. But a lot of it is just taking time. We were discussing earlier about perhaps going to a make-up counter, getting your make-up done just for a day.

Yeah, pampering yourself a little bit.

Yeah, exactly, a little bit of pampering I think can go a long way.

Sure, I agree.

We were talking about this question of feeling feminine or feeling like a woman. I think it also dives into the relationship part of it, very much so. So what would you say for someone who has a new relationship, whether they have children or not, and they have a new relationship and when do you tell that person, the new boyfriend or girlfriend what your diagnosis is.
I think, again, sort of in a similar way to how you maybe you tell your children, you know, it’s probably not something you have to tell all about on your first date or when you’re in the sort of early stages of a relationship. Obviously it’s part of you and it’s nothing you should feel ashamed of, so if you want to talk about it and they’re visibly freaked out by it, that sort of tells you something about them. But I guess it should be something that kind of comes around quite sort of organically really, you know. Oh, I feel a bit like this, but in a different way to having children, because obviously they’re going to have lots more connotations of what MS is. So I guess it’s that thing of, yeah, without… yeah, I don’t know actually, it’s a tricky question.

Do you have any tips?

Well, I’ve definitely had this scenario because I’ve been divorced with MS and then started a new relationship and got married, and obviously he had to find out at whatever point that I had MS. He knew, but he didn’t understand what it was, so in fact on our first date he thought that I was quite drunk and commented about it, but actually [laughing] I wasn’t. Because I was kind of just, you know, off balance. So I did tell him quite early on and I even tried to scare him actually, that was sort of my tactic to see…

Yeah, was he going to stick around?

…had I scared him off or would he stick around, and he did. So I don’t think there’s any right answer, but I think it should just kind of come up naturally. Because as you say, it doesn’t define you, but it’s definitely a part, I think, of who we are.

Actually, I say not something to bring up on a first date, but I did exactly that only a few weeks ago. But it was really random, so I can’t remember what happened. We were walking to the shop and I said something about having MS. He said, ‘No you don’t’. I said, ‘Yeah, I really do’. And he was like, what, that really debilitating condition? I was like, well no, it’s actually many things for many different people, like right now I’m walking to the shop with you, everything’s okay. But I was like yeah, sometimes I might not be that well, sometimes I’m great, it’s not like a one size fits all, like uniform thing. But that’s it, I guess, you just have to kind of explain and talk about your experience of it because lots of people know someone who’s had MS but they’re completely different conditions maybe that you’re in and so I guess just talking and being open.

Yeah. I think honesty is probably the best answer to all of our questions.

And if they can’t handle it, that really is their problem, not yours.

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