Can My Mind Control My MS Symptoms?

Can My Mind Control My MS Symptoms?

Can your mind control your illness? You might think, “No, of course not, the illness will do what it’ll do. I have no control over that.”

What if I told you that you might have more control over it than you think? 

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago, I went into total panic mode. For the first time, I felt that my body was out of my control.

The left side of my body had stopped working. It was like someone had pressed an off switch that I didn’t know I had — and that was it. A few days later, my right hand became weak. The three years I’d taken to study illustration were suddenly pointless. I didn’t know who I was anymore. My life was always about drawing, and I didn’t know how to do anything else.

I was in a super-stressed state all the time when I was newly diagnosed. I panicked about every tingle, every stab of pain, every flailing weak moment. Was this feeling a relapse? I didn’t know. I didn’t understand MS then. 

I realize now that this was probably all in my head. It felt worse because I was experiencing a heightened emotional response to what I was going through. 

Here’s the thing: I learned about something called psychosomatic pain, which stems from an emotional rather than a physical pain response. I was experiencing the emotional trauma of a new diagnosis that manifested in my body as physical pain, making everything seem much worse. That made sense. The stress that I felt was bringing on these symptoms; my learning about MS symptoms at the time further complicated the situation.

So, how did I get out of this state? 

I realized that my response was part of the process of accepting my diagnosis and that it takes time to work through emotional trauma. 

Then I found that the key to managing my emotional stress was in my actions. I wasn’t in control of what the illness could do to my body, but I was in command of my mindset toward the illness. 

I realized that the way I was living was unhelpful. I was constantly telling myself and others, “Ah, I can’t do that, I have MS now.” My attitude was not benefiting me; instead, it was giving the disease power over me. 

After reading The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, I realized that I needed to change my narrative. I began to practice daily meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and gratitude, and over time, this helped to change my outlook on life. I have been relapse-free for five years and have minimal daily symptoms.

Following my success with this method, I tweaked what I’d learned to suit people with chronic illness and put together a free 5-day challenge to help others to manage their stress and, therefore, their illness. Take the challenge by visiting this link to Enabled Warriors on Facebook Messenger and click “Get Started.”

Describe your diagnosis. Have you accepted it? Let me know in the comments below.

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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.

Jessie Ace is host of the DISabled to ENabled podcast. A podcast that aims to inspire people living with chronic illness. She’s interviewed everyone from Paralympians, radio DJs, chronic illness bloggers, and marathon runners. She’s also a writer and illustrator for the biggest MS charities worldwide such as the multiple sclerosis today, National MS Society, MS Society UK, shift.MS, MS-UK amongst others and she has also written articles and illustrated for Momentum magazine, MS Matters and New Pathways. Jessie was diagnosed with MS at 22 years old and says MS makes her feel blessed every day to be able to live a new life and to connect with so many amazing people. Her own experience of being newly diagnosed so young was negative and scary – she wants to change this for other young people and support them through the process by being a patient advocate.
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Jessie Ace is host of the DISabled to ENabled podcast. A podcast that aims to inspire people living with chronic illness. She’s interviewed everyone from Paralympians, radio DJs, chronic illness bloggers, and marathon runners. She’s also a writer and illustrator for the biggest MS charities worldwide such as the multiple sclerosis today, National MS Society, MS Society UK, shift.MS, MS-UK amongst others and she has also written articles and illustrated for Momentum magazine, MS Matters and New Pathways. Jessie was diagnosed with MS at 22 years old and says MS makes her feel blessed every day to be able to live a new life and to connect with so many amazing people. Her own experience of being newly diagnosed so young was negative and scary – she wants to change this for other young people and support them through the process by being a patient advocate.

4 comments

  1. You obviously haven’t reached critical mass, yet. I, too, and probably among the million Americans of us devouring and practicing tomes and self-help tomes on mind control, self-hypnosis, meditation, attempting to self-trance counting backwards and forwards among breathing as I’m driven out of bed in ghastly nauseating chronic neuropathic pain. It’s not in the head; it’s in severely damaged neuro-transmitters, good luck. Once upon a time, they made the same claims about the nauseating incarcerations of Fibromyalgia — “Oh, it’s all in your head, psychosomatic.” Good luck.

  2. Mark Upnorth says:

    The mind, and determination, can do wonders. Did it cure my M.S., no, BUT! For over 30 years I worked like a mule, no, much much harder than a mule ever could. I did 80+ hour weeks. I started out running a manufacturing plant in Mexico, crossing the boarder every day, to then running companies (plural) of my own. I kept telling myself, I had no time to be sick. So for those 30+ years I never had so much as a sniffle. Okay, M.S., but again, not time to be sick, so I did my shots, popped the pills….and kept on going, running super stressful jobs, like it was nothing. After doctor after doctor convinced me to give it up, I finally decided to sell my businesses and ease up. Once sold, and the new owners trained, I went comatose! Essentially. But than, after a couple 2 -3 years, I fought back. I realized if I did not eat, I would not become zombie like, unable to even watch TV programs, because I could not follow the simplest of programs. But If I kept from eating, even an egg without anything else, I could make it till I ate. But I needed nutrition. So I tried juicing fruits and veggies. It worked, I did not “turn” into that zombie like thing I had become. I eventually used a high power mixer to do the same with fruits and veggies, giving me more pulp & fiber. A couple more, I was able to re-introduce lean meats, fish….in moderation. It’s been almost 6 years, from one of the “worst M.S. patients health wise” according to multiple neurologists, I still ddi not get sick, except for the M.S. thing. A gazillion M.S. gifts. To not a single relapse in over 5 years, and loosing some of those “gifts” I was told I never could. They were supposedly for life. Like the voids in my vision from Optic Neuritis 7x….the need for use of a cane…..
    I still haven’t gotten sick in over 30 years. Now, I cant afford to get sick, financially. Okay, there was one time. Decades ago, everyone in the house had the flue for weeks. One nite, I was sure, here it is. Now I’m getting it. I went to sleep, and woke up, nothing! I’ve done well with fighting the M.S., and have stayed healthy the whole time. And there was a prostate cancer thing several years back. I couldn’t deal with that, but I did diet and supplement changes, for the past how may years, my PSA is lower than my first tracking it, decades ago. Mind over matter? Or is it what you put in your mouth?

  3. I was diagnosed 1999, lets say I wasn’t partying like that! It all started with double vision, after months of learning how to function with that and a few panic attacks. Unsure of at any moment MS will strike! Well that was over 20 yrs ago. I have made myself adapt to foot drop, timing when I need to pee and eventually weening off Detrol, working at a physical job at a mill from 1994-2014. Have always had horses so hubby and I rescued 2 in 2013 and 2014. He has to do getting hay and dumping poo but I make myself still do chores. Along with 2 rescue dogs, 3 rescue cats, a rehomed cockatiel, 2 guinea pigs, 2 turtles, and some little fish. Will myself to keep moving, I know the last 2 years has taken its toll, MS has caught up with me. But I’m making myself to keep going, even if I’ve been winding up on the floor more and more (by the way, I am sitting here with a black eye/cheekbone. Had a fight with the floor- the floor won😉). Peace Out, Penny

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