Posted by: Thixia | March 16, 2008

Tips on Coping with MS

The uncontrollable, unpredictable, and chronic nature of Multiple Sclerosis can be a difficult fit in your hectic life.  We like to be in control, to know what’s coming next and to react quickly.  The fluctuation in symptoms may sometimes make it hard for someone affected by MS to plan long term.Fortunately, human beings are remarkably resilient and quite able to adapt and adjust to life events.  Many people who cope well with MS are those who are able to look for and to find support; they feel connected to others.  A good sense of humour (even though there is nothing funny about having MS) and the willingness to talk openly about the disease with friends and family seem to help, too.

One way to maximize wellness is to be screened regularly to identify underlying conditions that may alter the symptoms of MS and the level of disability.  Basic health-related behaviours recommended for a person with MS are:

  • Do not smoke. 
  • Follow a well-balanced diet (such as the one suggested by the Canadian Food Guide). 
  • Use alcohol with moderation. 
  • Get enough sleep at night. 
  • Institute a regular exercise program. 
  • Try to maintain an optimal body weight. 
  • Maintain work, hobbies, and outside interests as much as possible. 
  • Keep a good mental attitude and reach for help if needed. 
  • Use rest periods or naps to restore your energy. 
  • Get regular medical and dental checkups. 

Having MS means having to deal with physical and psychological challenges.  The following challenges can be coped with if you have knowledge and resources in place to help you.

Dealing with MS at work.  

 The main issue related to work is certainly disclosure.  Legally speaking, a person suffering from MS or any other disability typically has no obligation to inform employers of his or her condition.  It’s up to you whether you believe it is appropriate or necessary.  Think over the matter carefully.  You may want to talk with a lawyer.  If you choose to disclose your diagnosis to an employer, be self-assured and non-defensive.

Dealing with fear, anger, and depression.   

Fear, anger, and depression might be the result of the pathology of the disease and its effects on the brain.  But, most of the time they are natural emotions which arise from the unfairness of losing what we may have previously envisioned as a “normal life”.  While such feelings may be inevitable, their persistence can be detrimental. Be as honest with yourself as you can.   

This means not denying reality or creating false expectations.  Think about the positive elements of your situation and develop a positive attitude which emphasizes things that can be done instead of the things that cannot be undone.  Be helpful with others, do volunteer work, help a friend or relative in time of need – all of these things can have a therapeutic effect.Hope and acceptance come when you realize that MS is now another part of yourself and not the central core and that life is about today and less about yesterday or tomorrow.  


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