Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is a devastating moment in a person’s life. This progressive and chronic disease can cause loss of sensation, impairment of speech and loss of muscle coordination as it begins to worsen. For those living with the disease, it can be a constant battle against the odds and the support of friends and family is vital.
One of the things that partners, friends and family often point out when it comes to MS is how helpless they feel. With no cure it often seems as if they are helping to manage a decline they can do nothing about. It can be very distressing watching someone you love and care for gradually deteriorate.
But there are things that you can do and they are important for the person suffering from MS:
The range of emotional and practical support you can provide is invaluable. When someone is initially diagnosed what they want most is to talk and feel comforted. They probably don’t want to consider the practical aspects – that can come later when you have both come to terms with the condition. Just remember that everyone is an individual and the needs of one person will be different from another.
Key to this is to make sure that you listen well and that you are flexible in your approach. What you might consider important is not necessarily top of the list for your partner, friend or family member. Some people find it difficult to accept help, however little, and may want to push on as independently as possible. It’s a question of getting the balance right and making sure you communicate well and provide what is needed.
Negative Emotions and How to Deal with Them
These can be on both sides. Someone suffering from MS is going to go through really difficult periods and will need your support and empathy. Taking things personally when someone gets irritable or is difficult to get through to is not the solution. Patience and care are. As someone providing help to a MS sufferer, there are going to be times when everything overwhelms you too. It’s important to notice when this is happening and give yourself some breathing space.
That’s why making sure you keep your social life going, for both of you, and join support groups where you can talk with like-minded people is also vital. When one partner suffers from MS it can be remarkably easy to lose connections with those around you and the things you used to do. Try to resist this as best you can, even if you don’t feel like going out.
There’s no doubt that dealing with multiple sclerosis is a hugely challenging thing for both the sufferer and those close to him or her. Making sure you continue to communicate and get the support you need is part of the solution but always make sure that you look after yourself as well.