No one wants any diagnosis. Hell, when I heard “multiple sclerosis,” I was stunned because of all of my research and my being over-dramatic attitude, I thought I had a brain tumor or something. I could have almost accepted that. I DID almost accept that. But this is life long and it’s been over a year now, which may seem like nothing to a lot of people who have had it for years and years, like my mother who’s had it for over twenty years. And when you throw in the mental illness? I feel like I’m one big ball of crazy sometimes. I’ve had the borderline personality along with bipolar depression and anxiety for awhile, most of my young adult years. High school was a struggle. In fact, I switched schools due to bullying but still graduated early. Let’s not get off track, shall we?
How do I live with it? Everyone’s different, but I have a few key factors that have been helping me lately. The first thing: I need stability. I need some sort of a schedule (and this is for both the borderline and the MS) because without a schedule, either the borderline/bipolar or the MS will flare up easily. At least with me. Physically, I start to notice with the MS I get very weak, tired, my muscles can be sore or numb and tingly; it just depends, and sometimes it’s both! I’m not sure if anyone else gets that where it can be both sore AND numb and tingly. I’d love to hear from other people with MS some of their symptoms just to see how they feel. Physically with the mental illness, I get a headache, a bad one! I also get nauseous, which I don’t know if anyone else gets. Mine’s more heartburn because I also have G.E.R.D from the MS. My palms sweat and my throat closes up a bit. Those are my main physical symptoms. Now, the fun part, the mental symptoms, which I’ll tie in together because mine usually act up together. If I don’t have stability, I get very agitated. My moods shift terribly. I snap on a dime when I don’t mean to. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I’m a very nice person, but sometimes I can’t help it. I cry a lot more and then the really hard part... I accept my diagnosis of the MS when I really haven’t been accepting it in the past. This is why stability is very important for me. So try to think... is stability an important part of your life? Why? Physically and emotionally, what does it do if you don’t have it?
Next, I need to stay busy. Man! Lately, I’ve been taking up a lot of hours at work, cleaning a lot at home when I’m not working, then cleaning a lot when I AM working. I HAVE to stay busy. Otherwise, I don’t know what to do with myself. I also have to stay organized. Those two are important. Staying busy and staying organized. I’ll put those two together. I feel like a puzzle that’s missing pieces and has fallen to the ground if I don’t stay busy and organized. Like someone just got mad at the Monopoly game and tossed the table upside down and screamed, “I quit!” before making someone else pick up all of the pieces while the drunken friend just laughed. There’s nothing funny about our own minds being mixed up or being clumsy from the MS, having physical and mental problems from either the MS or any sort of mental illness. It doesn’t have to just be work, though. What is it that keeps you busy that keeps your mind going? Something that keeps you focused? I know with me it’s the cleaning, organizing, or writing. There has to be something. Everyone has something.
Thirdly, my support system. Now, guys, this doesn’t just have to be friends or family. It could be you have a group you like going to or a coworker you confide in or you really trust your therapist. Whoever it is... THAT’S your support system altogether. You need that. You need to have at least one person you can count on, to talk to, or just be able to text and be able to tell them, “I’m not feeling the greatest today. Can we talk?” You can even take it a step further and say, “Can you come over?” They care about you. They won’t bite, I assure you. When I got diagnosed with MS, I had both my ex boyfriend and my mother in the room with me. I remember I was at the hospital in the emergency room, having a flare up. I had no idea at the time, I just knew I was feeling like absolute crap, my legs weren’t really working, and I’d fallen a few times. My mom was also with me after I’d gotten diagnosed with bipolar disorder, listening to the doctor about my medication since I was having some issues with it. My point? Don’t be afraid to talk to someone, ask them to come with you to appointments, whatever. If they say no, it’s okay. Ask someone else. If they say no, don’t feel discouraged. Just talk to someone about it. Know that people care about you. Don’t think the worst.
Finally, I’ll just say this very vague statement and you can do with it what you want with it. Always have a plan. And a backup plan. Things don’t always go the way you plan, therefore, make a backup. If you need to, make another. Sometimes you do just have to wing it, which I realize this goes against my stability and organizational statements, but this is life. You can do your best and do all these things, but things WILL fall out of place. You might get upset, but take a few deep breaths because guess what? It’s not the end of the world. You have your support system. There are numbers to call, you can always take a minute to relax if you need to. No one will look down on you for that. Just realize that these things may not work for everyone. They work for ME, that doesn’t mean they’ll work for YOU. I’m just a survivor of many things wanting to make some sort of difference in the world. I don’t even know if I’m doing this right, but hey, if anyone gets anything from my words, I feel alright.