3 Things to Consider When Telling People You Have Multiple Sclerosis

Accepting a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is difficult and it often takes people a while to come to terms with what it means for their future. Some people choose to tell others immediately about their MS diagnosis, while others may bide their time — there is no right or wrong way to approach it, it’s very much up to the individual and what they feel comfortable with. However, if you’re finding it difficult to tell the people closest to you about your multiple sclerosis, the Multiple Sclerosis Society UK has some useful advice.

Telling Your Loved Ones
Family members and partners are usually the first people you want to tell, but these are the hardest people to tell as they love you and will most likely be upset. They’ll need time to fully digest the news and come to terms with the diagnosis. They may be in denial about what it means or they may not fully understand the implications of MS. Try to be as informative as you can and remember MS is different for everyone, so while they may jump to the worst conclusions about the disease, it doesn’t mean that’s how it will work out for you.

Tell children as much as you think they can emotionally cope with and fully understand for their age. It’s better to be as honest as possible so they don’t find out information from other people. Children are often more adaptive to change than adults and will probably take the news a little better.

MORE: How to manage multiple sclerosis relapses.

Choosing Who Else to Tell
You don’t need to tell everyone you meet that you have multiple sclerosis (although you can if you want to), but there are some people you may want to know right away so that they can offer you emotional support.

Close friends will want to support and help you in any way they can, and sometimes they may be easier to talk to than family as they tend to be more objective. Telling colleagues about your MS will help them understand why you may be fatigued or unable to work.

Telling dates and potential partners can be tricky, you may want to be upfront or you may want to wait to see if you like them before broaching the subject. Either way is fine.

MORE: Find out more about coping with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis here. 

Dealing With Different Reactions
You will find that people can often react very differently to your news. Some may be very upset and grieve, others may be upbeat and positive about your outcome. Some may even withdraw and avoid you — they do this because they don’t know what to say or how to handle the situation. Others may bombard you with questions that you can’t answer.

You may find that you have to reassure people and explain that having MS doesn’t mean that you can’t live a happy and successful life. It’s important you emphasize that you’re still the same person you were before your diagnosis and you want to be treated the same.

MORE: Three tips for newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

5 comments

  1. Tim says:

    I recommend following a “need to know” policy on informing others. in my experience, not understanding the illness prevents others from endorsing you for jobs or other roles.

  2. Reg. Bavis says:

    I have told some people at Montgomery Place and the residents here have started a rumour saying that ms can be catching.

  3. Mark Walker says:

    If you live in the UK, then tell your employer. This gives you legal protection against discrimination. Its sufficient to tell HR on a confidential basis.

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