Adjusting to an MS Diagnosis
Multiples Sclerosis Society of Canada
In the adult population in Canada the chance of being diagnosed with MS is approximately one out of 500 to one out of 1,000 people. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 15 and 40, although anyone can contract the disease. Although you may feel like it, you are not alone. Learning about MS and sharing your knowledge and feelings with family and friends will make coping that much smoother.
It can be overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that you can have a full life with MS. Your life will change in many ways, but you do not have to give up your plans or your dreams. You can learn to adapt without losing sight of your goals. Having a strong support system in you life is one of the best ways to deal with the changes you are facing. Communicate with those around you; let them assist as you adapt, and you will find that close friends and family will adapt along with you. Include health care professionals, support groups, the MS Society and local organizations in your network of support. Learn as much as you can about MS. Knowledge of the disease you are dealing with makes it easier to have some control.
A diagnosis of a chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis can be overwhelming. It takes time to adjust to this new reality. It is normal to feel a wide range of feelings, and there is no one right way to cope with this new addition to your life.
It may be helpful to keep these tips in mind:
- Educate yourself about MS. Knowledge can help you to have a measure of control, even in the face of the uncertainties of MS.
- Communicate openly with the important people in your life. The people in your life will deal with your MS in different ways. Sharing feelings openly and with respect for other coping styles can be helpful. Partners, family, and close friends may help you adapt to the news and learn how to live with this change. However, it may be wise to think about who you disclose your diagnosis to: you may or may not wish to tell casual friends, acquaintances, or those in your work place about your MS, especially soon after diagnosis when you are still adjusting to the news.
- Build or strengthen your support system. As well as close friends and family, your support network may include health care professionals, the MS Society of Canada, support groups, and community organizations.
- Remember that you can have a full life with MS.
A diagnosis of MS represents a very real and complex change in your life. It may be unrealistic to expect that you’ll ‘accept’ this diagnosis right away, or all of the time. If possible, try to find small ways of adapting to the presence of MS in your life. Being adaptable does not mean giving up your plans, priorities, or goals. It means finding what works for you so that your life is as enjoyable and full as possible, even with the changes that MS may bring.
There are many resources that you may benefit from. The MS Society of Canada is here to provide as much information and support as is right for you.
Courtesty of Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, www.mssociety.ca