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LEARNING TO LIVE WITH ANXIETY,

DEPRESSION & FATIGUE

Since I began with ms these symptoms have been a part of my life and I am now learning to live with them. The more I learn, the more I realise how important it is to get the Attitude Right, in order to begin to get to grips with and over-come these mental challenges.

THE RIGHT ATTITUDE IS CRUCIAL

At the beginning these symptoms were particularly difficult to deal with, because to look at me you would not know I had ms. I looked well so people mistakenly assumed I was well! I kept having panic attacks and felt as though I was going mad. I freely admit I was very anxious but for a very good reason. What was happening to my body was very REAL, and it played havoc with my mind and my emotions.


In many ways I now regard this psychological side of ms, which affects my mind and emotions, as separate from my bodily symptoms. The reason for this is that how I am FEELING in myself is not really linked to the degree of my physical disability. At times in the past I have felt so bad that it was very difficult to function even though I was essentially able-bodied. At such times I have relied on anti-depressants and other drugs to calm me down and get me through difficult and stressful periods in my life.


I have now come to terms with my disability and have adapted my life to ENABLE myself again (e.g. using my mobility scooter to get out and about). However disabilities affecting the mind, which people can't see, can be just as debilitating, and are often more difficult to overcome. I have made the personal choice to try to avoid prescription medications for these symptoms, but for many people with ms, especially those who are clinically depressed, an anti-depressant maybe beneficial or even essential to their well-being.

HOW I TACKLE THIS SIDE OF MY MEDICAL CONDITION

In overcoming this side to my illness it requires a lot more soul-searching, which takes time, patience and an absolute determination to SUCCEED. The more I learn the more I realise the truth in the statement

ATTITUDE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FACTS

I now understand that although these symptoms a are very REAL part of my condition, it is very important not to GIVE IN to them. It is all to easy to lose CONTROL and let these feelings TAKE OVER, which results in my focusing very much on the ms, my disability and what I can't do. If I allow myself to dwell on this I lose confidence and can become very withdrawn and self-destructive, which in turn makes the ms feel so much worse!


Instead of focusing on my limitations, I have to change my attitude and work with what I CAN DO, how to EXTEND my LIMITS and build my CONFIDENCE. Sometimes what I need is to get BUSY LIVING! This is easier said than done. The last thing you may feel like doing is getting out and about, but even if a you have to be dragged out, it is a very important step forward!

THE TRICK IS TO 'FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!'

This is the title to a book by Susan Jeffers. which I have found immensely helpful. It helps you face your fears and indecisions, and turn them into confidence and action. What I found particularly helpful, was becoming aware of the 'self-destructive chatterbox' in my head, shutting it up, and consciously replacing these negative thoughts with positive affirmations about myself, and my life. It is important to work out how you actually want from life and to change your attitude. It is amazing just how much your life then changes.


You also want to set yourself goals and then set your mind to achieving them! I now regard these goals as challenges and in Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway, I build CONFIDENCE and SELF-ESTEEM, which make me feel good about myself and taking the POWER away from ms and giving it back to me. In this way have began RECLAIM my life back! Yes, ms is a part of my life but it does not define me and I am determined not to let it stop me from achieving my ambitions.


In becoming clear about what I want from life, I have had to learn the art of saying 'No'. All to often in the past I said 'Yes' to many things which were not in my BEST-INTEREST. I wanted to please people but ended up suffering as a consequence. I now know that I cannot afford to do this and that:

IT IS NOT SELFISH TO BE SELFISH

In fact by Giving to much and then collapsing I was not helping anyone, least of all myself. That was actually being selfish! I now try to be clear about what I want and my objectives. I am beginning to learn to Expect only the best, because I now recognise that I am special and this is what I deserve. By HELPING MYSELF first I have found that I am in a better position to then help others.


My attitude has changed and I now believe that it is essentially up to me who and what I attract into my life, and how I react to the things that happen around me. I can regard ms as my worst nightmare or my greatest blessing. That is my choice.

LIFE HAS DEALT ME THE CARD OF MS BUT

IT IS ENTIRELY UP TO ME HOW I PLAY IT

Ms started off being my worst ever FEAR, but now I believe that it is becoming my greatest teacher. Through having ms I am becoming far more Aware of my body, my mind, who I am and what I want. I have also been taught what is important in life which gives me a great PERSPECTIVE

I NOW KNOW WHATEVER HAPPENS,

GIVEN ANY SITUATION

I CAN HANDLE IT!

I know this because I have been through so much with ms and survived! The truth is we are creatures of survival and though we feel the pain of any loss, we do adapt and change and eventually get on with our lives, because we have to. So essentially what do we really have to fear?


I am also becoming tougher and don't waste my time on people who will drag me down or get wound up about matters that are essentially fairly trivial. I am learning how to face my fears and accept CHALLENGES life throws at me. Often when push through my fears and live my life anyway, I find that they miraculously disappear, suggesting that they were largely created by my mind in the first place!


I now take full responsibility for everything in my life, including ms. I no longer regard myself as a victim or a sufferer! Yes, living with ms is not easy but as with everything in life there is a positive side to it. It is teaching me to truly APPRECIATE everyday of my life, to live my life in the present and to expect the best!! I am learning that rather than trying to change people or things in my life which I am unhappy with I am much better simply CHANGING MY LIFE! I have found that ms has a habit of getting rid of the rubbish in your life, and at the time it hurts like hell, but GIVEN TIME it enables you to move on to BETTER and BETTER things!

WE SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO GET ON WITH OUR LIFE DESPITE MS DESERVE ONLY THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME!

I believe this now and also believe we can all get it as long as we truly believe it is what we deserve! That is the difficult bit and although I am getting there I know I still have a long way to go!

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