The Emotional Roller Coaster of Managing Emotions with MS
I am an emotional, sensitive woman. I like to believe that I have a warm heart in a very cold world. Isn’t this what the world needs? Love, warmth, acceptance and transparency?
Recently I find that my emotions change within a millisecond. So, instead of being sensitive, I am “super sensitive.” I am easily offended, and I also can be the one who offends another. I cry more often. These emotional highs and lows are exhausting. If I had to describe it, my emotions are entangled, like spaghetti. A millisecond is defined as one thousandth of a second. With this definition in mind, it is safe to say that my description of my emotions may be a little exaggerated, yet I want to ensure that I paint a clear picture.
I can proceed from a state of happiness, to anger and even despair within moments. We each have different temperaments and reactions. I am finding that my patience at times can diminish quickly. This, of course, places me in a quandary, as I am on a quest to transform into a peaceful, grateful, “patiently awakened” individual.
I have spoken to others who battle chronic illness. Changes in emotions seem to be a common denominator among us. I sometimes feel as if I am on the verge of an emotional breakdown. It’s as if my emotions lead me to the apex of intolerance, yet there is something that prevents me from losing it completely. If you can imagine this, or if you’ve been here, this is extremely difficult to admit – and even more toilsome to discuss.
Healthline published an article written by Jeri Burtchell and Ana Gotter titled “Understanding and Managing Multiple Sclerosis Mood Swings.” In the overview the writers described the same emotions I mentioned and often experience. “You may be happy one minute and angry the next … these are examples of mood swings, which are common in some people with multiple sclerosis (MS).”
The article goes on to state that “mood swings are a common symptom of MS. But the connection between the disease and emotions often goes unrecognized. It’s easy to see many of the physical effects of MS, such as problems with balance, walking or tremors. In comparison, the emotional impact of the disease is less visible from the outside.”
The article resonated with me for several reasons. First, it reiterated that I am not alone in my struggle. Second, most of my symptoms at this point in my disease are not really visible. I suffer from extreme fatigue, severe pain, restlessness, anxiety and additional things that others cannot see. I have been told I hide it well. Living with invisible illness is complex and vexatious. We often are “betrayed and reduced” by the “you look fine” syndrome, which we know fails to encompass and respect our entire situation. We are always fighting a battle.
It is ironic that our emotional outbursts and mood swings often are taken out on those we love the most, or those who are the closest to us. They see what the public cannot envision. They witness our emotional struggles in real time and they, too, are affected. I am sometimes guilty of this behavior and after my outbursts I experience remorse.
At times I regret something that I may have said in anger and I feel powerless as my reactions subjugate my reasoning. If you haven’t realized yet, I am having a moment where I feel completely exposed. I often say there is power in vulnerability, and someone needs to hear that they, too, are not alone.
Yes, I am positive and optimistic most of the time and I sincerely appreciate my life. However, I am made of flesh and in my humanness lies imperfection, anxiety, fear and, of course, strength. Having MS and chronic illness is a difficult walk. I could have or would have never imagined this; nonetheless I am here, and this is my reality. This roller coaster of emotions is a ride that I do not enjoy. I have to sit with myself and ride this out. I can hope only that these mood swings will quell and, with proper assistance, I will better manage my emotions that come with the disease.
“Understanding and Managing Multiple Sclerosis Mood Swings” discusses methods of managing and coping with these myriad emotions. “The first step in taming your MS related mood swings is speaking with your doctor.” They go on to suggest steps we can take to help control our moods such as getting support from others and things we can do on our own.
In conclusion, most of us will experience mood swings and intense emotional changes. Again, we are not alone. We have multiple resources and we have each other. Please remember that we are worth fighting for.
“I am the face of a survivor, I am all of my pain and glory.
Not always picture perfect, Yet I am alive to tell my story.”
(— from “A Survivor’s Anthem” © Teresa I. Wright-Johnson)
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Note: 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 other 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.