April is always an exciting month for us here at MS-UK as we mark MS Awareness Week, and 2018 is no different!
This year we are celebrating our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling. We launched the pilot of this service in October 2017 and since then have delivered over 150 telephone counselling sessions to people with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. But we want to help even more people!
At MS-UK, we believe that it’s good to talk. However, we know that there can still be a stigma around accessing counselling, and we want to break down these barriers so people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can get the support they need.
So, this MS Awareness Week I ask you to help us spread the message that it’s good to talk! Throughout the week of 23 – 27 April we will be posting on Facebook and Twitter all about MS-UK Counselling, and it would be great if you could help us spread the word by retweeting or sharing our posts. Thank you!
Keep an eye on our blog for updates as we near the big week...
In her latest guest blog Chloe deliberates over 'over-doing it' with multiple sclerosis (MS) and how she has learned she has to ask for help...
Ah, the havoc kid’s parties can create. Not only is the house a tip afterwards, but they shake me right to the core. Lib was 6 the other day, and we had not one, but two parties for her – a family one, and a friend’s one. I remember last year saying I would never do two again, but low and behold I did not heed my own words this year.
I love them, I really do, but the planning, executing and aftermath takes it toll. I did a hell of a lot of baking (which again, I love) but that ultimately means a lot of standing in one place. Not good for the MS! Or in other words – strike 1. Then there’s the running around at the actual parties – strike 2 for the MS.
Strike 3 comes from the bipolar. Running on adrenaline and manically planning things means I tend to become too high because my body can’t regulate things properly. And what comes up, must come down, so after everything was done, I crashed on an epic scale and ended up in bed for nearly 3 days. I became tingly and fatigued, and was suffering from exhaustion and depression. So yeah, another example of how everything takes it’s toll.
It wasn’t a serious relapse, so I didn’t get in touch with the MS team and I knew what it all stemmed from, but in my mind it was what I like to think of as a minor-relapse. One that will ultimately get better after a few days of rest. And it did, so everything is fine. But it did get me thinking about how fragile life with MS can be. Just a simple thing like organising a birthday can derail things on an epic scale.
But how am I meant to cope with life as a Mum of two kids and still maintain an even keel on my MS?
Life with kids is hectic, and not exactly predictable. I guess the answer is help. Asking for it, which I confess I’m really bad at doing, and accepting it when it’s offered. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, I need to accept that perhaps I can’t do what ‘normal’ Mums can do.
Working around this is going to be tricky for me, mainly because it means that at 6, Lib is now old enough to take on board things that are explained to her. So is it finally time to have a ‘conversation’ with her, or do I just carry on casually mentioning my MS in passing in the hope that it sinks in? It’s a tricky one for sure.
You can follow Chloe’s blog at https://tantrumsandtingles.blogspot.com/
Download our ‘Am I having a relapse?’ form from our MS symptoms page.
In her new guest blog Chloe Metson talks of dealing with depression...
People often ask how I cope with having MS, and truth be told, it’s rarely the MS that is the problem. Of course, living with relapsing remitting MS can be extremely tough, what with it’s up and downs, but no, the thing I find hardest about living with MS is the depression.
MS and depression go hand in hand for a lot of patients. Whether it is caused from living with a highly stressful situation, or actually physically caused by the MS itself, for me it’s undoubtedly the most difficult thing to cope with. It consumes me, and I become a shadow of my former self. Usually happy-go-lucky, this change is particularly hard for family and friends.
If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced depression, let me try and explain what it feels like.
Depression is darkness and fear that is targeting you as a person, and as far as you’re concerned, no-one else. It becomes sort of a cloak that others can’t penetrate and you feel it protects you from others. It completely numbs you in such a way that the only emotions you are capable to feeling are the horrible ones, and the only thing that alleviates it is sleep when you can get a break from the aggression going on in your head.
I’ve been at that point where all hope is lost, because it takes over and consumes you, and it’s the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. It felt so tempting to take the option to give up on things completely, because it was so utterly exhausting having to battle it. But I fought on and came through the other side.
I’ve been living with MS and depression for 16 years now. I believe I’m over the worst of it as I have no trouble in focusing on the future and the positives of my life, thank goodness. MS throws up it’s challenges, but at least I feel like I can cope with them now. But how did I reach this point? Firstly I learnt to be kind to myself. I took the time to rest if I could, and did nice things for myself, even if they were only small. I stopped beating myself up over negative thoughts. Depression is an illness and it deserves the respect of one. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t be reckless and run around on it, so I learnt to respect my mind and give it the space it deserves. I tried to focus on the positives and the little sparks of happiness in life. Most importantly I’ve been trying to talk about it, and accept help whenever I can, however hard that may be.
There is such a stigma in our society towards mental illness. Perhaps if we were less unsympathetic and ignorant towards it, it would give a sufferer more breathing space and the encouragement to find the strength to battle it and allow their true selves to ignite again. Depression can be fought, and you can win the war. I’m living proof that however bad things may seem, if you are patient, there can always be light at the end of the tunnel.
If you need to talk to someone please contact our Helpline either on 0800 783 0518, or via our Live Web Chat service.
Last week the Virgin Money London Marathon charity of the year, Heads Together, released a series of ten films exploring the benefits of speaking openly about mental health. It’s spearheaded by some rather familiar faces, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The charities aim is to end stigma around mental health and change the conversation on mental health once and for all.
You can watch the films, and find out loads more about the campaign, by following the charity on Twitter @heads_together and using the hashtag #oktosay.
We wish everyone taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon lots of luck, no matter which charity they are running for!