Handling an abundance of emotions is part of life with multiple sclerosis

Taking things one moment at a time is the best strategy for this columnist

Desiree Lama avatar

by Desiree Lama |

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Let me paint you a picture of a scenario that has stuck with me for years.

It was my sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin and I was having lunch with my best friend at the time. We were discussing my journey with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis because I had just relapsed, so times were troublesome. My friend offered me support because I was struggling to keep up with the demands of my classes, research, and work.

In the middle of our conversation, another friend came upon us while walking through the building. This friend sat down with us but felt the seriousness of our conversation. I decided to disclose my condition to this person because it was not an aspect of myself that I had tried to hide. In an instant, a look of pity filled their eyes and they said, “I am so sorry. You are so strong.” I responded, “Thank you, it’s OK,” and moved on with my day.

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Don’t get me wrong, those words aren’t the worst comment a person can make, but it sure does get tiresome. Of all the emotions that can be conveyed, pity is not the sentiment I wish to invoke in others when I disclose my health condition. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.

I spent a large part of my MS journey feeling sorry for myself, but that isn’t good for my mental health. Lately, I’ve tried to better understand the emotion because it isn’t a healthy mindset to live with.

Pitying and feeling sorry for myself won’t do anything to change the reality of living with MS. This disease is something that I’ll have to live with every day for the rest of my life. There are no days off with MS.

Sure, I may have better days than others, but that doesn’t mean the MS magically disappeared or took a nap. So wallowing in self-pity won’t change my reality. If anything, it will make me feel worse about my circumstances.

I have to remind myself that, due to the unpredictability of MS, the only thing I can do is take it one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time. However, there have been countless times when I’ve worried about future possibilities, which doesn’t do me any good. Stressing about something that hasn’t happened also negatively affects my mental health.

Taking my journey with MS one moment at a time is the best strategy for me because it eliminates many anxieties that try to hijack my mind. The world of MS isn’t characterized only by its onset, symptoms, and diagnosis. It also involves disclosure, worries, anxiety, and internal battles that we all must process.

Do you ever have pity parties? What do you do to overcome them? Please share in the comments below. 

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.


Lisa Kandel avatar

Lisa Kandel

I used to worry a lot about my future with MS. I decided to give it all over to God. I pray a lot, and I worry a lot less. I still have really bad days and some decent days, but I still pray to get through them all. I have accepted the fact that I will most likely never have a really good day, but that's okay. Hang in there and stay blessed!

Ashish Sharma avatar

Ashish Sharma

I have finally realized that asking for help is not a bad thing. And accepting when it’s offered doesn’t make me an invalid



While I have had my moments, I tend to be angry with the MS demon for depriving me of those many things that I "used to" be able to do while doing those things which I still can before I can no longer do them. You can not succumb to being "sorry" for yourself.

Sandra Herl avatar

Sandra Herl

Remember, at least you had some good life before MS. Many people I've met, never had a life to remember!.

Pam Allen avatar

Pam Allen

I have many emotions and tears, I just got diagnosed but I’ve had it for a very long time. The doctor said. I’ve been sick for a very long time now. I’m not doing very well. I wish they had found this out earlier so I could’ve Started treatment earlier. I just feel very alone. Pamela Allen.

Kathryn R Pasquini avatar

Kathryn R Pasquini

Hi! My name is Kay and I have had it for a long time. I was sick and no one could find out what was going on. Finally it came but I was glad I knew things are not the greatest but I have made it to 78 with 2 grown sons it is very hard for them to deal with the emotional part of it. Not to worry you do make it! You just have to keep pushing and looking forward.

Michael Pearson avatar

Michael Pearson

Live in the moment! And, only move forward!
We all deal with stuff, our bags of stuff are our choosing.
Choose a good path forward.

Sandra Herl avatar

Sandra Herl

Good answer. I was glad when I got a diagnosis. At least I knew what I was dealing with. So I went on, accepted, and lived my life. Life's short. Live it.

Sherri Farr avatar

Sherri Farr

My daily life can be overwhelming and sometime even a little unnerving (haha). Waking to the surprise of symptoms, days that are good and some days unable to get out of bed. I often cry and I do sometimes feel sorry for myself. I am triggered often hearing that no one should feel sorry for themselves . That has felt shaming to me, as if not allowed my grief and real pain. But I have learned to allow the emotions that accompany MS, even a good pity Party before I bounce back. I’m capable of happiness and feeling sad in one day. It’s part of the package. I love the support of the MS community as sometimes it is a lonely disease.

Charles Dick avatar

Charles Dick

I have had a fair amount of emotional dysregulation myself. I could laugh in the most tragic situations and at the simplest things. I also have a problem with motivational dissonance. I want to do a thing, or at least I want to have the motivation to do a thing, but getting my inner foot on my inner gas pedal to actually get up and do a thing is more difficult than it should be. This does not get me down emotionally because I am a resilient person, and sometimes I actually manage to do things. Getting into a routine helps, as does writing lists.

Fig avatar


Pity and fear is what consumed me for a very long time. I don't know what the future holds and that's scary, I also have more bad days than good but it's confusing because I don't know if it's my age ( as I am almost 60 ) of my ms.
I don't see my consultant very often so I don't get to have any questions I have answered, when I do see her she is very blassay about things and gives me no reassurance about anything, she's not empathetic at all.
I try to take everyday as it comes, it is hard but their are people out there that are a lot more poorly than me.
I don't want pity just someone who can explain to me what I am going through and coping mechanisms that could help me.
I have some other permanent health conditions which are serious but at the end of the day I am so thankful that I have my family, my facilities, most of my mobility, I'm lucky in a lot of ways.
So I keep plodding on and looking forward and most of all try and keep my sense of humour.

Elizabeth DiPietri avatar

Elizabeth DiPietri

My husband keeps me from feeling too sorry for myself! If I get a cold, he has one worse. If I get the flu, he is sicker. When MS raised it's ugly face in me, he "developed" similar symptoms and, of course, they are much worse!!!! He gives into his symptoms and feels sorry for himself so well that I try harder to keep enjoying what I still can do instead of giving in. Keeps me happier!

Tom A avatar

Tom A

I think "managing" emotions is useful. You can learn to let the "bad stuff" (helpless, pity, call it what you will) come up. You want the bad stuff to come up when you choose the time, not at other more important times. You want to allow it; really feel it. You are falling apart, it's the end of the world and there is nothing you can do about it. Let it go on for as long as it continues. You'll eventually say, "OK, I'm empty now". Then do it again some time (in days, weeks, months). You want to be tired of it and have no reason to do it again unless you want to. Then you are in control. You have managed it well.

Renee LaChapelle avatar

Renee LaChapelle

I've heard a lifetime of You're so strong! so resilient! so invincible! for dealing with an unknown at the time disease called multiple sclerosis. No internet or even literature existed except in medical libraries, nothing except a doctor saying you have MS. He said no drugs, no treatment in the works in 1980 and to continue my life. Made it to 69 without drugs or any of the snake oil treatments people swore by and still called strong. Age is catching up and can wait to see what else life brings to me. MS is now in the background.


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