About 65% of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) will progress to a second stage of the disease called secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). People with SPMS often have a variety of symptoms that can lead to a roller coaster of emotional changes.
Here are some ways to cope with the emotional disturbances associated with SPMS.
Coming to terms with symptoms
Leading a life with RRMS or SPMS can be an emotionally challenging experience as it requires drastic lifestyle changes while coming to terms with having to live with a chronic and progressive disease. Trying to stay optimistic and taking things as they come can go a long way in coping with stress and keeping the focus on things that are enjoyable.
Take part in activities that interest you
Keeping yourself busy with activities such as socializing with friends, taking part in indoor or outdoor games, reading, or anything that helps steer your mind clear of negative thoughts can be helpful. However, it is also important not to over-exert yourself; keep in mind limitations such as your pain and fatigue levels before embarking on any physical activity. Ensure that you rest adequately and seek help from friends and family whenever needed.
Find time to relax
It is often difficult to find some time for yourself in the midst of daily demands as well as those of the disease. Try to find time in the day that you can dedicate solely to yourself. This could be early in the morning, late in the evening, or any other time that might be ideal for you to wind down. During that time, you can practice relaxation techniques such as meditation to calm and soothe yourself.
Cultivate a positive frame of mind
Living with SPMS can invite all sorts of pessimism that can further increase your emotional burden and even lead to depression. It is important that you find new ways of being positive about your life. Even if you don’t feel at your best, you can try to put a positive spin on life with some practice and perseverance.
You are your own inspiration
Remember that there can be no bigger inspiration for you than yourself. Take a moment to look back at your life’s journey and all the obstacles you’ve managed to successfully overcome so far. This can be your inspiration when you experience dejection. Try to gauge what life has taught you through the years and use that experience to create a motivational narrative for yourself.
It’s okay to be over-reactive sometimes
Some patients with MS often experience a condition called the pseudobulbar affect (PBA) in which a display of emotions such as laughter, sadness, joy, anger, or frustration happens unprovoked. In the event that you are experiencing PBA, understand that this is an expected symptom of the disease and should not be a cause for distress.
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