By Ashley Ringstaff
Living with multiple sclerosis is life changing for the person diagnosed, but it is also a change for our loved ones as well. I often tell people that my loved ones “Live with MS” also, because it is now a part of their lives for the long haul. It’s a learning experience and modification time for all involved. Things change when we least expect it as well, that will need modifications along the way. Meaning, if we relapse, new symptoms occur, etc.
I can honestly say that when I was first diagnosed that I pushed people away, especially my husband. I was only 22 at the time of diagnosis, and I felt like I didn’t want to make him deal with this at such a young age as well. Luckily for me, he is very stubborn and didn’t allow me to push him away, and for that I’m grateful.
There were people close to me at the time of diagnosis, which I no longer associate with. It was not my choice to no longer be friends with them, but things happen. It hurt, to have people abandon me at such a crazy time in my life. I understand now that not everyone can “handle” multiple sclerosis, even indirectly.
The state of mind I had when I was first diagnosed – I was very depressed, as well as angry. I couldn’t even tell you which emotion I was feeling more of at that time. They were pretty much dead even, but one would be more prominent at times, depending on the situation.
Many people, including myself, will tell you that you find out whom your true friends are when faced with such a life-changing event. I’ve made new friends since my diagnosis, and I have come to tell people straight off the bat that there will be times that I have to cancel last minute on plans, or I can’t give a 100% answer on if I can go to an event or not, because it all depends on other factors. Is the event outside, is it very hot outside, etc.
If you’re reading this, and you are in a relationship with someone that has MS, please be patient, especially if they are newly diagnosed. For those of you that are friends with someone that has MS, in a relationship with them, related to them, etc. Please be patient in general. Also, take the time to try and understand what we’re going through as best as you can. It makes it easier for us to vent and talk to you, when you have some sort of knowledge about multiple sclerosis, and how it affects us on a daily basis.
I have a friend that I don’t get to see as often as we would like, but she still texts me or calls me just checking on me… seeing how I’m doing… Do I need anything? I can’t even being to explain to you how much that means to me, and to many others living with MS. Just having someone there for us, it can mean the world.
For those of you that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, you are not alone. You have so many of us out here in the MS community that will be there for you and talk to you, and just let you vent… we may need to vent in return. I’ve had so many people message me on social media, and are so glad that they have someone to talk to about this illness, that “get’s it”. Also, know that those around you might want to be there for you, but they just don’t know how. You need to let them know what they can do help you out, or even suggest some things they can read, etc. I know it’s easy to isolate ourselves, to avoid people leaving us in the long run… but then you have no one there for you in the end.
There are so many resources out there that offer ways for you to build relationships with others living with MS in your local community, online, etc. Here is a listing of the organizations apart of the MS Coalition, click here. Here is another listing as well, click here.
Whatever you are feeling and/or going through, it is never ‘wrong’. You have the right to feel certain ways, and we can’t control the way MS affects each and every one of us. We are all affected differently, but we are all in this together. I can honestly tell you that many people that I’ve spoken to with Multiple Sclerosis, want to hand out the “MS &Things People Should NOT Say” list to their loved ones, and other articles I’ve written on MultipleSclerosis.net. There is also a list my good friends and fellow writer, Cathy Chester wrote called, “What People SHOULD Say to Someone Living with Multiple Sclerosis.” This is a good article to read for the friends and loved ones of someone living with MS.
I hope you enjoyed the article, and please feel free to reach out to me on my Facebook page if you ever just need to chat.
*Ashley is a 29 year old from Central Texas, that was diagnosed with RRMS in August 2010, at the age of 22. She is a mom of two boys and loves to read & write in her spare time. Ashley is a blogger for MultipleSclerosis.net, you can view her blogs here. Her writing is mostly written with a sense of humor and personal experiences.