The initial diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (also known as MS) is scary. We feel a wide range of emotions of everything from shock to relief. Typically by the time diagnosis is reached, we’ve been through a battery of tests and already suspected the possibility but somehow having the official word still comes as a bit of a shock.
Denial, sadness, anger, fear, confusion, avoidance, sleeplessness, crying and withdraw can all be normal reactions. Relief is also a common reaction after wondering for so long what could be wrong and finally having those answers.
After the initial shock wears off, acceptance is our goal. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease that does not yet have a cure. Acceptance is the key to being able to get on with life. Acceptance has different meaning to different people; however, the goal here is to accept that our life is going to change. We may not be able to do all of the things we used to do and we may sometimes need help. If we fight this; it will be very difficult, if not impossible to find happiness because we will be forever fighting ourselves.
Once we’ve accepted we have MS; then it’s time to take back some control. This disease robs us of who we once were. There are many ways we lose control with this disease; but it doesn’t have to stay that way. There are ways to regain some of that control. Aside from various medications that help to alleviate symptoms; there are also other ways to be in control. Taking control of our healthcare is a wonderful feeling of empowerment. Knowing our disease. Learning everything we can about it. Keeping our own health file (see: http://livingms.org/2011/10/27/taking-control-of-your-health-care/). Learning ways to manage our symptoms. Talking with our doctors and creating our own health care team that will work with us. A bit of planning or modification goes a long way to helping us accomplish some of the things we used to do; and those accomplishments become a lot sweeter than they were before.
A very important part of coping with Multiple Sclerosis is talking with others who are experiencing the same things we are. Thanks to modern technology there are message boards available if we wish to test the waters without jumping in. Once we feel comfortable talking about our diagnosis, we can consider joining a support group. It is a great way to get out and be around people who understand what we are going through.
When the time comes that our body changes, our abilities change; remember we need to look at ourselves for who we are; and not hide from our reflection. See the beauty within and within all accomplishments. Be assertive, no one should make you feel inferior. Speak up if someone says something frustrating. We are still the same people we always were; possibly even stronger.