Category Archives: Multiple Sclerosis

MS and Mental Health: An Unspoken Bridge

There’s a common misconception that Mental Health effects just the brain, not other parts of the body. Did you know that Multiple Sclerosis can be aggravated by mental health issues?

How does this happen? Stress. 

Stress causes an inflammatory response in MS patients and should always be taken seriously. When someone is having a mental health episode their body immediately is heightened with stress whether they have anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other diagnosis. This can cause flare-ups and even possibly an MS relapse.

What can we do to help ourselves stay on track? When someone with MS is being treated with medication for a mental health diagnosis it’s important to have open communication between their psychiatrist and neurologist. Steroids and MS meds can throw off someone’s emotional state of mind so it’s good to be monitored by both healthcare providers especially if they are on a new MS medication. This will reassure the patient that their body and their mind are both being taken care of properly.

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A lot of healthcare providers are simply unaware that this is such a struggle for many of us. The way I’ve worded it to my psychiatrist is that when my body is in distress it stresses out my mind, and when my mind is in distress it stresses out my body. It’s an endless cycle that can be definitely frustrating. It makes our bodies ache, and can make it difficult for us to go through our day to day routines.

The battle between the body and the mind is a long and tough battle but knowing what to be aware of is always a way to keep yourself safe. Please be sure to reach out to someone if you are ever struggling.

-Becca Elizabeth (A Punk With MS)

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Season Changes.

MS and the heat have been quite the unfriendly combo to my body. When the humidity gets high I usually hermit out in the comfort of my air-conditioned living room. Fall being soon is quite the relief to me (as it is probably to some of my fellow msers too)

 

For those who don’t know, people with MS are usually hot/cold sensitive and lack temperature regulation in their bodies. If a room is too hot or too cold be sure to let your MS friend know so they won’t overheat or freeze. For me personally I really can’t tell when a room is too hot/cold or if it’s just me. I even have difficulty when it comes to shower temperature. I have to emphasize: not everyone with MS has this symptom but a lot of us do.

Between Therapy, self care, and doing my best not to go completely insane I’ve had my hands full.

Despite of our hardships with weather; I decided to make a list of the little things that are enjoyable especially during a day when the temperature is too extreme for you to go anywhere.

Netflix/YouTube (I’m huge on Rhett and Link lately. I also have a huge documentary kick going on)

Coffee. Nectar of the gods.

Watching the leaves turn color (I live in beautiful New England so this is highly enjoyable)

Sitting on the couch while listening to an audiobook

Craft. Make jewelry, crochet, or pick up a different hands-on activity.

Take a nap. Who doesn’t love naps?

Have a horror movie marathon with snacks.

Write poetry or draw something you’ve been thinking about a lot.

Start a journal.

Bake homemade bread or pastries.

I hope these ideas help. Please be sure to rest and take care of yourselves especially through the upcoming weather changes. Your body will ache and maybe go haywire for a bit but everything will be okay ❤ When winter strikes be sure to come back and read this list. Staying inside to to avoid hot/cold sensitivity is the absolute worst. It can get really boring.

-Rebecca Elizabeth (A Punk With MS)

 

 

 

 

Hope.

Multiple Sclerosis is terrifying. It’s lack of control. You may wonder how to gain control of your life back. The first step is taking a deep breath and realizing that no matter how rough things get you still have a purpose in life. The depression from this struggle can be at an all-time high sometimes. Don’t let it beat you. Don’t let it win.

Be brave for your children and your significant other. If you have neither than be brave for your pets! In all honesty, the most important person that you need to be brave for is yourself. You can overcome this and you can get through this. Focus on a new project, enjoy the summer breeze, look around you and remind yourself of the beauties of being alive.

Our bodies are attacking itself but that doesn’t mean that we need to stop living. Realize your limits and reach for the stars. Don’t think that you aren’t capable of something great.

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Here’s a task. Every day I want you to find something beautiful around you. Look at it. Indulge in it. Allow it to turn your vision into something less dark. You can do this.

 

With Love,

-Rebecca Elizabeth ( A Punk With MS)

Medical Cannabis: My Journey

I have been smoking marijuana since I was 15 years old.  Never in a million years did I ever think that I would use it medicinally. I simply enjoyed getting high and forgetting about my days. As a teenager I was rebellious, carefree, and thought I knew the world like the back of my hand (as most teenagers do). I would sneak out, indulge in public drinking, and go for burn rides with friends.

Now, let’s fast forward to two years ago. The exact date was February 4th, 2015.  It was one of the rudest awakenings that I ever got in my entire life. I was going through numerous medical tests for months. The issue I faced originally was numbness/weakness on the right side of my body. I also had consistent vision changes/dizziness. After the tests it was confirmed by my neurologist that I had a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. This honestly wasn’t a surprise because my mother and deceased uncle both have/had  Multiple Sclerosis. (My neurologist is also my mother’s neurologist). I cried. Hearing this news was definitely difficult. I couldn’t cope with my life for a VERY long time. 

I have witnessed my mother struggle with this terrible disease my whole life. I also have witnessed my uncle struggle in a wheelchair around the time that he died. Those memories are still engraved in my mind to this very day.

For those who don’t know, Multiple Sclerosis is when your own immune system attacks your body (the brain and spinal cord). This causes lesions and a lot of muscle spasms and nerve pain. I have weakness in my right side, numbness, tingling, nerve pain, migraines, muscle spasms, and restless legs. 

My first MS medication was Rebif. This was an injection I took three times weekly. The side effects were brutal. I felt like I had the flu EVERY SINGLE DAY. The only thing that eased the body aches and pains was marijuana. Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers only helped so much. 

This chapter in my life is what began my use with medicinal marijuana. I didn’t use it to get high, I used it to find relief.

 I also suffer from PTSD. Marijuana helps lessens my flashbacks.

 You could say that marijuana not only helps me physically but helps me mentally and spiritually too. It makes my body and mind feel “normal” when I used to spend years feeling nothing but aches and pains. 

I’m on an oral pill called Tecfidera for my MS currently. It causes gastro issues and a lot of flushing. Because of Tecfidera I am now two months in remission. I still fight MS symptoms daily. I also use marijuana daily and do not plan to stop anytime soon. Medicated edibles, CBD oil, cannabis oil, smoking, and vaping are all great ways to get relief.

It gave me my life back. Thank you for reading.

-Rebecca Elizabeth A Punk With MS

Multiple Sclerosis; Coping With Challenges

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness that causes your body to attack its own central nervous system. This leads to myelin damage and misfiring of the nerves. Myelin is the layer that covers and protects the nerves. During relapses (or attacks)  Your body attacks the myelin in the brain, optic nerves, and even the spinal cord. These attacks cause numbness, tingling, weakness, fatigue, nerve pain, and even possibly the loss of mobility later in life. (this is for some MS patients not all.) Permanent damage can cause a lot of obstacles for patients who are trying to live as normal as possible.

The list of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are long, but being able to cope with the everyday changes, challenges, and obstacles is one of the most important things.

 

1. Find A Support System In The MS Community

The MS community is one that is widespread and always readily available. Before the wonderful world of the internet, patients had to read up information from the small number of books locally available and got any other information on the disease directly from their neurologists. There wasn’t as much research done on MS back then, and it was hard to find others who understood the disease. This lead to more patients feeling alone, isolated, and extremely depressed.

Nowadays at the click of a button, you can find friends who also have MS and even endless topics about the disease. The world is at your fingertips (literally) so go out there, make some friends, and educate yourself as much as you possibly can. Being a part of the community will make your hardships and challenges much easier because you can relate to others who understand.  I use M.S. Connect and MS Pals on Facebook. These are great groups for support.

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2. Know It Isn’t The End

You may be newly diagnosed or may have been dealing with this disease for years. Regardless of the situation, days get tough and yes it can be very frightening. Remind yourself that the medical field is advancing daily. For example; scientists just found out that our blood molecules can possibly define what type of MS we have and what treatments will help us.  This is a huge breakthrough in MS research. We haven’t found a cure yet, but we can’t give up hope.

 

3. Pick Up A Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to pass the time, especially for those who are on disability. If you do happen to work still, a new activity or hobby could help lessen your depression. For me personally, I write, I draw, I even play guitar sometimes. When I don’t have the energy for that, I read or I watch my favorite T.V. show. The distraction helps me get through my harder days, and being productive in writing makes me feel like I am doing something that benefits others since I no longer work. You can find something that will help you too. Check out Creative MS Expressions, a community on Facebook where others with MS share their art and creativity. Mary Pettigrew (The founder of MS Pals) Runs this group and is a huge MS advocate in the community.

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4. Get Involved

If you feel like you want to help make a difference or just need to get out of the house, The Multiple Sclerosis Society has many different events where you can meet others and fundraise for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. If you want to see when an event is happening near you, be sure to click the link! There are also other opportunities they offer that include advocating and volunteering.

5. Take Care Of Your Body

Having MS means being aware of what you put into your body, and making sure you exercise. This will make you stronger over time and can help combat fatigue. Healthy eating (such as reducing inflammatory foods) and taking vitamins are some simple yet very effective ways that can help you through this MS journey.

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I hope that this article helps you overcome your current MS challenges and obstacles. Remember that you are not alone and that there are many people who are here standing/sitting right beside you throughout this battle.

-Rebecca Elizabeth A Punk With MS