Building relationships while living with MS

Find tips for creating strong and meaningful relationships along your MS journey
Building Relationships While Living With MS

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My multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis came in the prime of my life. I was 25 years old, a neurosurgical ICU nurse, and in graduate school. I liked being the one to care for others, but being the one to receive help and attention made me feel uncomfortable. That's why I stubbornly ignored it when both of my legs started to go numb, even though I knew deep down that something serious was happening. When I lost the ability to move my right hand and my vision became blurry, I finally admitted that I needed help.

While receiving my MS diagnosis was hard, I actually think it brought me closer to my friends and family. Once I let them in and allowed myself to be vulnerable around them, they provided unconditional love and support. I only wish that I had been brave enough to let them in sooner.

Here are a few of my tips on how to build strong relationships with the people around you, and how to reach out for the support you need:

  • Be gracious about accepting help: Admitting that you need help is an act of bravery, not of weakness. Initially, I found it difficult to accept help, but over time I have tried to be more gracious about letting others care for me during a relapse or on a bad day. Dealing with an MS diagnosis is a difficult experience for your support system too, and it helps when everyone feels like they are being a part of the solution. By letting loved ones in, we are facing MS as a team
  • Communicate your needs: The people around you can’t read your mind, so speak up and advocate for yourself. This can help avoid a lot of confusion and frustration along the way! Learn more about working with your care partner
  • Be honest: Instead of making excuses or appearing uninterested, be honest with the people around you about the impact your symptoms can have. You may still be capable of many things, but be ready to adapt based on how you feel
  • Find a network in the MS community: There’s nothing like being able to talk to someone who “gets it.” Even though I have matured a lot and my relationships have grown since my diagnosis, it is still hard to talk about certain things to the people closest to you. Sometimes you just need to run something by another person who has walked in your shoes, which is why social media can be such a wonderful tool. I’ve grown a network of people within the MS community who laugh with me, cry with me, give me advice, and most important, cheer me on. You can use the Above MS program to connect with others in the MS community to find even more support

Finally, take every opportunity to show your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Be sure they know how grateful you are for them every day.

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