MS O'S FEAR AND ANGER ONLINE LESSON
MS emotions: Fear
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We have talked around them enough for me to believe they are a topic worth covering. This week, therefore, I'd like to begin a three-part offering on the emotional "side effects" of multiple sclerosis. I say side effects to acknowledge the fact that there are real emotional symptoms of MS, namely .
I'll begin the series with the big one: FEAR.
MS is kind of unique in that we will not only have to deal with fear at the time of diagnosis but, likely, several times over the course of the disease. Namely, this is fear of the unknown.
When the doc (either at long last or out of the blue) said, “You have Multiple Sclerosis.” We likely (after picking ourselves up off the emotional and/or literal floor) got a little scared. I have to admit at this point the absurdity I feel in writing: “welikelygot a little scared." I didn't show it to those around me but I felt the boldly designed architecture of my planned life crumple as if it had been constructed out of tissue paper. Leaving behind a crumpled up wad of dreams comprised of shreds of hope and tatters of control.
I was afraid.
I have no doubt that each of us had our own version of that experience. The thing that makes MS a little different and unique is that we have those moments throughout our disease.
Every time MS rears its head into our life in a new way, we have to cope with and face our fears anew.
I once said in a speech something to the effect of:
“MS is a thief: An insidious, progressive, debilitating thief. It takes from us more than we are willing to give. At different times over the past five years, it has taken away my ability to walk and replaced it with fear. It has taken my ability to speak and think properly and replaced them with fear. It has taken my sense of taste and replaced that too, with fear.”
How we cope with our fear is a very personal journey. It is one that no one else can take with us. Many of us try to hide that we are even experiencing these fears. We may feel too much a burden to our loved ones as it is. We surely wouldn't want them to see us as being weak and giving into our fears.
I submit the following thought for your consideration: Experiencing fear and coming out the other side more openly may be empowering to ourselves and those around us.
I have used a technique learned in a research study on pain management to help in the times of fear. Cognitive Retraining Therapy (CRT). In a nutshell, CRT re-programs one's reaction to stimuli. In the pain scenario, we learned that while we cannot stop or change the pain, we could change the pain reaction, thus changing the suffering.
Using this process, I have learned to change my initial reaction to a new symptom. I will admit that I have a hall of fame batting average on this practice, but that's still only about one hit in three…it's a coping process. It all comes down to not allowing ourselves to take that first step down the slippery slope of fear. It is easier to not take it than it is to try to recover from even one step.
I fear I ramble here.
I have read your comments and know that you too deal with fear more regularly than you care to. How do you cope with your MS fears?
Next up: MS & Anger
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
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