I’m struggling with mental health as MS causes major life changes

How reaching out for support helped put things into perspective

Mike Parker avatar

by Mike Parker |

Share this article:

Share article via email
An illustrated banner that says

Because multiple sclerosis (MS) has changed much of my life in a short amount of time, I’m now fighting mental health issues.

Things have been especially tough since the start of the new year. Usually, I’d spend January working, planning holiday time, and looking at my calendar to arrange family events. But this year, for the first time, I’m not working. Because of my increasing MS mobility issues, I lost my 20-year career in the security industry. That’s been very challenging, but I had no other option. My job required me to be on my feet for 12-hour shifts, during which I’d manage buildings, handle aggressive situations, and patrol the site.

This change hit me hard and made me take stock of many different aspects of my life.

Recommended Reading
banner image for Ben Hofmeister's column

In life with multiple sclerosis, self-care is anything but selfish

Seeking support

It soon became clear that I needed support in coming to terms with the effects of my MS. So I reached out to my general practitioner (GP) and spoke with him about my low feelings. Unfortunately, he explained, I’d have to wait many months to see a counselor.

I then talked to Lisa, my wife, and we discussed ways to fight back and accept this new way of life. She showed me all the positives I had going on and explained how proud everyone was of me. Our conversation helped build back the confidence I’d lost.

Working at my security job may not be possible anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. After I was diagnosed with MS in August 2022, I started a podcast and created a website and social media accounts to spread the word about this disease. These moves gave me lots to focus on.

In addition, I’ve always enjoyed playing computer games to relax and take my mind off real life, so I’m now spending more time doing that. And now that the weather is slightly improving here in the U.K., I’ll do more gardening, another of my main hobbies.

As I write this, I’m listening to music and feeling emotional, but in a good way. Taking a step back and reflecting on all the good in my life really helped put things into perspective. I’m proud of myself for fighting through instead of giving in, and for refusing to allow MS to control me and my life.

Talking openly about how I felt also helped massively. Allowing my feelings to come to the surface and then dealing with them — rather than hiding them and allowing negativity to take over — fills me with genuine positivity.


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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

kerry jones avatar

kerry jones

Hi Mike ,
Yes MS sucks doesn't it ?,but like you I worked full time as a community psychiatric nurse ,a job which I loved but became impossible to keep up with mainly due to stress and as we know stress and MS do not go together.

I was fortunate enough to have a decent nhs pension ,we sold our old victorian family home and moved to a more modern bungalow .
At that time I really thought MS had ended my life and i'd soon be disabled in a wheelchair

8 yrs on still mobile(albeit a lot slower and wobbly),still active ,and generally OK except for the bad days when I need to rest up (which still annoys me.)

I'm on Ocrevus and have met the most lovely people through the QE hospital which led onto on line PIlates for MS,the group which is mixed and geographically wide spread has such a community vibe and we have held MS days and communicate on whats app.

Id still prefer not to have MS but sometimes its good to be able to stand still,reflect and have a change of pace and thank my lucky stars im still around to be able to.

Thank you for sharing your story which is a great read and support for all.

Reply
Craig avatar

Craig

“I’ve got MS, MS doesn’t have me." Crazy thing to say. Life totally changes with MS and continues to change - MS is in control. No one beats MS. You don’t fight this thing - it always wins in the end. All you can do is adapt. Until the researchers / pharma come up with treatments to address the underlying degeneration (the reason we all continue to worsen). In 5-10 years we may see these treatments- until then, MS is in the driving seat and we are just passengers.

Reply
Leanne B avatar

Leanne B

I have MS and yes its got me. I dislike that anecdote as MS changed every aspect of my life. I can't stop it, it does what it does.

Reply
Mark Avery avatar

Mark Avery

Exercise!

Reply
susan marie m bemis avatar

susan marie m bemis

Hi Mike
I have MS, diagnosed 1999 placed on Avonex and continued working full time as a Physical Therapist here in California. I am 70 yrs. old now, retired 4 months ago little slower (age related I THINK probably not the MS) and my recommendation to you is continue to be active - both mentally and physically even though you think you cannot do it. Tax your neurological system!! It is truly the only way to maintain your function and activity level. Good luck to you

Reply
Elizabeth Cohen avatar

Elizabeth Cohen

MIKE, SOMETIMES IT HELPS TO KNOW YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE. I WAS DIAGNOSED IN 2002, AND STARTED USING A WALKER IN 2005; UNTIL 2021 I WAS LUCKY IN THAT MY MOBILITY REMAINED PRETTY MUCH THE SAME. THEN I FELL, FRACTURED MY FEMUR AND WHEN I COULD PUT WEIGHT ON IT, I GRADUALLY LOST THE ABILITY TO WALK; I ALSO SLOWLY LOST MOBILTY IN MY RIGHT ARM AND HAND. BUT WHAT I REALLY LOST WAS MY INDEPENDANCE. NOW I NEED A CARETAKER BUT I AM TRYING TO MAKE SURE I KEEP UP WITH THE ACTIVITIES THAT MAKE ME HAPPY--GARDEN CLUB, BOOK CLUB, ETC. WE JUST HAVE TO KEEP GOING AND NEVER GIVE UP. THANKS FOR SHARING

Reply
Chris Jackson-Smith avatar

Chris Jackson-Smith

Hi Mike,
I was in full-time social work when I was diagnosed with RRMS, way back in 1984 (the irony of that date is not lost!!), but managed with monthly steroid injections until I had my daughter 7 years later. Fast forward 10 years, a move to Nottinghamshire and a reassessment at Queens Medical Centre, which resulted in diagnosis of SPMS and the announcement that I was unfit for work and given disability benefits. That was my lowest point, I thought MS had finally got me, but after a few days wallowing I decided on a plan of action (albeit a slow one) and worked out how to pace myself throughout my day. Most importantly I learnt how to say 'No', I had to accept that I couldn't help everyone but needed to concentrate on those most precious to me. Giving myself this permission helped enormously and has proven that I'm still beating MS, just a lot more slowly these days!
I'm going to sound a bit hippy now, but keep on keeping on taking each day as it comes 😉. All the best!

Reply
Mark Genco avatar

Mark Genco

I have MS and it has completely changed my life so it's definitely got me. I was diagnosed in 2009 but, can think back to 2003 when I started to get odd symptoms!

I am a chemist, lab donkey, and used to spend most of the day on my feet. Luckily work have been really good and have adapted to my needs. Now I work from home doing reports, other stuff and safety docs which, is ok. Luckily we have Microsoft Teams too so I regularly see the guys at work.

Since working from home I listen to more music, podcasts and audiobooks and am still learning.

It is nice to talk to people in the same boat often...people who get it!!

Reply

Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.