Listen to Chelsey B., Tina Z., Pam S., and Dr. Klineova talk about the unique challenges women face with emotional wellness, and discover different ways to cope.
Mental & Emotional Wellness
OUR ROLES AS WOMEN & LIVING WITH MS
Dr. Wanda Castro: Welcome to She Talks MS. My name is Wanda Castro. I work with Biogen. And today we will be talking about mental and emotional wellness. So, how does this mental or emotional health affect you as a woman?
Tina Z.: That’s a good one. Well, I think what packs a wallop for me is that, traditionally, women have been the caregivers. So it puts me in a bad spot with my children, who now have to take on a lot of what I used to be able to do. My husband, who is amazing, you know, he takes over the role of what I have to do.
Dr. Sylvia Klineova (Neurology, Mount Sinai Health System): I say that it takes a village to take care of patients with MS. Some patients like to rely on their family, but some patients feel that they have to be strong for their families, and they don’t want to burden their children or their loved ones.
Wanda: So, as a woman, sometimes you feel the pressure—that you need to always be happy, and be there to support everybody else.
Tina Z.: I do think there’s a lot of pressure, especially for women, you know. Smile, buck up—you don’t want to be seen as a burden. You don’t want to be seen as a complainer. And that’s just not the reality.
Chelsey B.: Being in the restaurant industry, you’re kind of always on a stage, and I can’t walk by a table and tell guests that I’m just not feeling good today because of my multiple sclerosis—I can’t have that conversation. So it’s led me to have very open conversations with my bosses, with my managers, to let them know that I might not be feeling okay today, and I might have to go and be in the back, or be in the kitchen, or do some side work or something. And everyone’s kind of very understanding.
Pam S.: And I have those days sometimes too. Usually, if I have a day like that, to me I phrase it as, oh, I feel MS-y today. And everybody knows what that means. And so they kind of cut me some slack. But usually when I have an MS-y day, I kind of isolate myself until I can pull stuff back together. You know, it might be a day that I stay home, I may not even come out of my pajamas that day.
Tina Z.: And it’s okay, some days, to say this is beyond what I can deal with. I need to cry, I need to yell, I need to eat ice cream, you know, I need to watch whatever, trash TV. And to give yourself permission to do that.
Wanda: Dr. Klineova, what role do healthcare providers play in emotional and mental health?
Dr. Klineova: I think a very vital role. They should build a relationship that is close enough that patients do not feel ashamed or scared to talk about those areas. And then healthcare providers have to foster the idea of emotional health, and mental health, and the importance in the whole process of treating MS. We talk about wellness, and what encompasses wellness. And we, you know, make sure that women address every issue. So it starts with the diet, physical exercise, emotional wellness, ample social support. We look at what they consider to be their social support—who they consider to be their social support.
Wanda: So where do you turn to for support?
Tina Z.: The freezer for ice cream?
Chelsey B.: My dog.
Pam S.: Ice cream makes any situation better.
Tina Z.: Well, I think it depends on what it is. You know, my healthcare providers, I have a team which is really wonderful. They handle different things. I have a physiatrist, an orthotist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a neurologist. So, I know we talk a lot about our friends and our family and support system, but the medical professionals who I deal with have been my support system. So, I think that’s important, too, for people to know. And if you feel like they’re not your support system, then it’s time to find somebody else who will be.
Wanda: Ladies, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. We hope that those watching us are able now to have these open conversations regarding mental and emotional health.
All: Thank you.
Everyone’s experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) is different. Your healthcare provider should always be your primary source of information. The people in this video are paid spokespeople for Biogen.