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.

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6 comments

  1. David says:

    My wife has been diagnosed with MS. She is 65 and works at an office job with all women. Her boss is trying to define who she is with MS by saying she “should probably quit.” “No one with MS works.” ” You WILL tell me when you leave won’t you?” “Why don’t you go home”

    Others make fun of her by saying “I can hear you shuffle all the way down the hall” or “Did you know you drag your feet?” Even unrelated comments, “Did you know your shoes squeak?” “Why don’t you get some news ones? Doesn’t that bother you?” “It’s annoying”

    This is about bullying and letting people define who you are with Multiple Sclerosis. I have never seen such a bunch of cold blooded witches in my life. Change out the w to a different letter.

    She is working with an MS counselor who suggests her going to the main boss who is a lawyer. It’s been 6 weeks since diagnosed and still no medicine because of the 4000.00 co pay so stress like this contributes to exacerbation episodes.

    • Theresa Luke says:

      They are unfeeling Stupid people. The only way for them to remotely understand what you’re going through is to be affected personally. My niece has MS. I’m very patient and she is still very independent. Prayers for a Cure. Much Love from Theresa Luke

    • Kate says:

      If you are in the U.S. call the drug company and see if they have any programs to help pay for your medication. I did and received a one year grant.

    • Jen Keightley says:

      Oh my goodness,what horrible people! MS Is an intensely personal disease and no two people have the same experience.Of course many people can still work and function normally.Don’t let these idiots get you down,they need to educate themselves.Regards medical insurance,I feel your pain,the stress caused by these companies really doesn’t help.

  2. Flap says:

    Ignorance. Uneducated. Without empathy. Suspicious and lacking in personal integrity. That’s for the co-workers. As for the boss, there is clearly a total lack of professionalism, not to mention against Federal Laws which protect individuals who have disabilities. There is recourse for his actions, his divisive and destructive ccomments. I would advise contacting Human Resources and filing a formal complaint. There must be a hearing including HR, the ill-informed “boss”, you, your wife and at least one witness not affiliated with the company.
    Start a paper trail. No one will help you until and unless you start the fight. Above all, never, ever give in or give up. I am a retired military nurse, and there is precedent for a legal action. Please be strong, and take the fight right up to the full chain of command. Your wife deserves to have her rights protected, and you have the right to help her in any way possible. Many blessings for you both.

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