Posted by: Thixia | March 3, 2008

Talking to Friends and Family about MS 3 of 4

What should I say, and how do I say it?

There’s no “right” way to tell people you have MS. What you say, and how you say it, will depend on your own individual situation, as well as the person you are speaking to. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Provide your family and friends with some information about MS.

There are many myths and misconceptions about MS, so it’s important to give your friends and family credible, reliable information. They’ll want to know things such as:

  • What is MS?
    • What causes MS?
    • How do people get MS?
    • What are the symptoms of MS?
    • How does MS affect your daily life now and how could it affect you in the future?
  • If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, ask for materials from your local MS society. You can also refer friends and family to these sources if they want to learn more.

    Tailor your information to your audience.

    The information you choose to give will depend on the person’s age and how well you know them. For more information on talking to children, see “Talking to your child about MS.”

    Be prepared for personal questions.

    Your friends and family may want to know how your MS could affect your relationship with them and whether there’s anything they can do to help. This is a great opportunity to reassure them that you value your relationship, and to ask for support. People can do all kinds of things to help, such as sharing chores, driving you to the store, or just being there when you need someone to talk to.

    Your friends and family may react in a variety of ways.

    There’s no way to predict how a friend or family member might react when they learn you have MS. They may experience a range of emotions, as you may have when you were first diagnosed. You may need to give them some time to absorb the information.

    Practice helps.

    It’s not easy to tell someone you have MS, but practicing can help. Write down what you want to say first, then try role-playing with someone who makes you feel comfortable (a trusted friend, your spouse, or someone from an MS support group).

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