By Stacie Prada
Life is not a straight line. Grief, coping, adjusting and recovery don’t follow straight lines from feeling bad to better. They’re more of a spaghetti diagram of past merged with present, conflicting emotions colliding without logic, and highs and lows mixed together as conditions change, time progresses and we adjust.
I can feel sadness, loss, fear, anxiety, love, connection, hope, strength and contentment in a single day. Usually I do. Often, I feel a combination of them all at once, and I think it’s normal for me.
I’ve learned flash mobs make me cry. Every time. They can be upbeat, fun and joyful, and still tears stream. I love the combination of surprise, music, choreography, people coming together and people dispersing as quickly as they started. They make me happy. They also trigger overwhelm for the connection, surprise and happiness they elicit.
I can analyze flash mobs for why I can’t keep my emotions level while watching them, and I can accept I don’t need to fix it. For me it’s a great example of how combinations of feelings can simultaneously occur when they aren’t usually related.
Remembering that feelings can be randomly triggered and illogical helps ease the desire to find the cause, the solution and validation. If I assume every feeling is valid yet temporary, I’m less likely to obsess over them. They can surprise me, consume me and evaporate as powerfully and fleetingly as a flash mob.
Certainly, if I’m suffering, I want to shorten the timeframe of feeling bad. If suffering persists, I want to have help. I know I’m susceptible to depression given my multiple sclerosis, and I watch for it. If I know not every feeling has a logical reason or need for fixing, fleeting emotions are less worrisome.
When feelings persist, having a well-rounded support team is crucial for my mental health and living well with MS. This team includes:
- Primary care provider who tends to my overall health
- Neurologist who monitors my MS progression, symptoms and mental health
- Counselor to call if things seem too much for me to conquer solo
- Friends and family who will listen and help me assess my condition
- MS Self-Help Group where I can share and learn from people who have MS
Not everyone has access to health care, and I encourage anyone who needs help to contact MSAA to see if there are services and support that might help. If you have a different condition and don’t have a care provider, search “mental health services near me.” Local health departments often have a web page with a list of resources.
To contact MSAA, call their helpline at (800) 532-7667 to speak with one of their trained staff members, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old. Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/