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.
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.
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.
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