Young adulthood is without a doubt a fun and exciting time of life. It is a time of adventure, embracing independence and navigating life. It is also a time of pivotal life moments; graduating college, buying a first home, getting married and establishing a long-term career. This is also the period of life where Multiple Sclerosis is most commonly diagnosed. Although MS can occur at any age, onset usually occurs in young adulthood.
Coping with an MS diagnosis as a young adult, and at any age, is challenging and can also be confusing. Having to make complex medical and disease management decisions at a young age doesn’t exactly come naturally. It’s critical to engage in shared decision making with your doctor and embark on a journey that is right for you. Shared decisions will spark ownership over your health and increase a sense of control over your diagnosis.
It’s normal to experience sadness, anxiety and even frustration when being faced with an lifelong disease as a young adult. They may feel different from their peers, or feel sad about having to miss activities because of symptoms and not feeling well. Managing your MS while balancing work and life can pose a challenge, but can also be achieved.
Social Life: When diagnosed with MS, it can be hard to tell your friends as no one wants to be seen as different. Whichever way you decide to let people know, it’s important to consider that it’s not overly stressful for you. These conversations can be tough, but with time and practice, it will get easier. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family will make the world of a difference. Social outings may look different when living with MS, but you and your friends will find ways to still enjoy activities together while taking your limitations into consideration.
School: Multiple Sclerosis can sometimes cause changes in cognition. Seek out extra support at school – whether that be an advocate, college advisor, or tutor. These people can help explain your diagnosis to college staff and find other ways for the school to support you.
Work: Educate your co-workers and employer on your MS diagnosis. Explain to them any limitations or health requirements that you may need in your work environment. Be your own self-advocate and help them understand how they can help you.
Being diagnosed with MS at any age is extremely difficult. For young adults, a diagnosis may impact the life and dreams they once imagined for themselves. Fortunately, with the right care, support and resilient mindset, many young adults adapt and embrace their lives with MS.