'Look at All the Good' Mantras

How I keep my head on straight when my brain has holes in it. 

  1. Sit with it. Remind yourself that being upset is a normal response to having your body fail you.  Personally I don't want to hear "Lots of people with MS have depression, have you considered medication?" Yes, I have considered medication, for the disease that I have. I am not saying that I have never struggled with depression, but I am not now.  Crying and getting upset is an appropriate response.  Sitting with it, the sadness for a minute is not unhealthy, it does not mean that I am depressed.  
  2. Find the good in your life.  I can find the good in my life.  When I sit with my happiness, I do not spiral back to the bad in my life.  I can focus on the beauty and good in my life.  If you can't ignore #1 and talk to your health care team. 

Ya. I am starting to question WTF I have done in my life to end up here. 

So how do I stay ahead of the negativity?

Some things that I like to focus on when the pain is bad, or when I am down.

  • Look at happy photos, preferably ones from a time when I was in an exacerbation. Seeing myself happy with my cane or crutches reminds me that MS in all in my head and so is my attitude. 
  • I will pick a different friend or family member to focus on for a few minute, maybe call them, maybe not.  But focusing on a person that brings me joy often helps.
  • I like to make and create, when my hands are particularly bad, like now, that can sometime seem undoable.  Using assistive binding to hold a brush can allow me to paint even if my hands are angry. Finding crafts and art projects that don't require a steady hand or prolonged grip are no less enjoyable. I find that I can almost always sew and that the vibration from the machine can mask the uncomfortable vibration in my hands. I find this masking pleasant. 
  • Make plans.  This can be a tough one when I am not sure if I will keep progressing or where my new baseline will be when I come out of this exacerbation, but I do like to make plans.  Even if they might be unobtainable without making adjustments.  Sometimes I will even try to figure out a trip based on me getting worse.  Sounds morbid, but what if I can't walk in a year? Does that mean I "can't" take my daughter to England, or on a cruise or to a national park? What is my backup plan if thing get worse instead of better? 

Ways I Cope with that WTF Feeling

  • Sit with it. Cry or Shout about it. But know when to need to let the anger & sadness go.
    • I also like to feel grateful.  Purposefully feeling grateful is not always easy.  But just like sitting with sadness sitting with a thankful heart can be very rewarding.  
    • Try obstinate on for size.  I personally like the fit. I like to stubbornly refuse to change my will to do my best for me and my fight with MS.  I have chosen that MS will not win, I will always find a way. Even if I have to yell and cry for a bit to get there. 
  • Make changes.  Find ways to find solutions.
    • I often have to remind myself that I can cope with the pain. 
    • Find ways to be safe.  Embrace your mobility aids.
    • I will not do more damage to my body by pushing it.  Unlike an injury, the pain I feel is my brain sending messed up directions.
  • Make allowances. Find patience. 
    • There will be times that you just need to rest.  Be honest with your body.  My rule of thumb: if it makes me cry I may need to stop. 
    • Sometimes I have to just remind myself that I am a patient and I need to have patience with myself.  I need to heal, I need to rebuild neuropathways.  I need to retrain part of my body to do things the way that they used to be done. 
  • My animals.  Yes in the house of all girls my ladies all bring me happiness. 
    • Dogs.  My 2 old boxers are amazing companions.  Their steady breathing and soft fur take me down a notch.  My blood pressure is always pretty low, but the dogs just make me feel so safe. 
    • Rats. The littlest ones in the crew are silly and sweet.  They are so soft and cuddly.  When I am doing dishes, I particular sore spot for me since I break things so much, there is nothing better than having my littlest girls on my shoulder, bruxing in my ear, checking the hair on my neck for what ever it is they are checking for.