Ten tips for coping when you have MS
Dawn Langdon, Senior Lecturer, Psychology Department, Royal Holloway College, London
Open Door - October 2004 pages 6
COMMUNICATE your needs clearly to others. It can be very hard for family and friends to guess what if any help you need. If help is offered in a way or on a day you don't need it, explain that you might need to take up the offer tomorrow or in another way. Other people will feel more comfortable once they know what to do and when to do it. Most people want to help, but need guidance.
ORGANISE your day in advance. Schedule rest periods. Be realistic about what you can get done in a day. Sometimes it can be hard to let things go or miss out, but identifying your priorities is more satisfactory in the long run.
NEGOTIATE to find the best solution. For example at work, it may be possible for you to shift your working day an hour early or late to avoid travelling in the rush hour. You may be able to work at home on the day each month that your drugs are delivered, so you can receive them and put them straight in the fridge.
FAIL without feeling guilty. Everyone lets people down sometimes. Don't be overwhelmed by one thing left undone or not completed as planned. Just think about planning your time in the future.
IMPROVE your fitness. Take advice on starting a gentle aerobic programme, which can reduce fatigue and improve mood.
DELEGATE as a matter of course. Don't struggle with chores if you don't have to. Check you aren't doing all of the housework yourself to prove something. Are there work tasks that could easily be done by a colleague or secretary? Six five-minute tasks in a day add up to another hour's work.
ENERGY is precious. Make sure that you are using yours in ways that bring pleasure and achievement to you. Only you can decide what matters and having the energy to share an outing with a partner or friend might be worth more to you than a frequently vacuumed house.
NOTICE when people are helpful and let them know how much you value their support. If they are happy to give help, you should be happy to receive and acknowledge it.
COURAGE to admit to difficulties and seek out constructive help. Some symptoms can be embarrassing or frightening to discuss, but you can be sure that your health professionals will have heard about them before. You might think that some symptoms can't be treated. It's never too late to check if something could be done to make you more comfortable, active or content. You have the right to be as happy and healthy as you possibly can be, so don't be afraid to ask your doctors, nurses or other helpers if something is troubling you.
ENJOY all of the things that are good in your life. Don't let MS take over. Life is like a garden: not all the blooms are perfect, but if you take in the whole picture, there is much to delight you.