How to Feed Your Soul and Find Positivity Amid MS

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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neuropathy, positivity, husband, laughter, connecting, i am fine, self-care and MS, finding myself

Our thoughts influence our being. The stories we tell ourselves frame our reality. They affect the decisions we make, our behaviors, and ultimately our overall mindset. These serve to either nourish or starve our psyche.

If we are what we eat, then are we what we think? Absolutely. We cannot help but ascribe to the words we tell ourselves. This can be difficult when MS is our constant travel companion. When negative feelings such as pain and sadness dominate, how can we feed our souls?

Be patient with yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The road to acceptance is a continuum. The goalposts change as this disease progresses. It is healthy to honor feelings such as anger and grief. It is healing to then challenge yourself to find an alternative. What feeling or emotion could better serve you? Write these positive words down on sticky notes throughout your home. As you see them, visualize a time in your life you felt this way. What can you do to bring this back? This can invite a balance on even the most difficult days.

Be kind to both yourself and others. I have found this the most powerful elixir. Doing something for someone else is powerful. Never underestimate your ability to bring goodness into the life of another. I love to volunteer with animal rescue. If I cannot do an event, I might make phone calls or respond to emails. I think of friends or family who could use a handwritten card. I might even put some flowers in a bunch for a neighbor. You have the amazing ability to make a difference. Cheer yourself through each of these challenges.

Choose your thoughts. This is such a powerful tool to retrain your brain. I do this proactively in an effort to hold a healthier mindset. I follow each negative thought with a positive. “I am in pain” may be followed by “I am grateful I can stay home today.” These action steps invite my mind to follow suit. This process has now become innate. Behavior is learned. Never doubt your ability to be both teacher and student.

We cannot ignore the elephant in the room. We have MS. This is our lifelong companion. But you are not your MS. It is imperative to distinguish your disease from your identity. The joys, the milestones, the loves, and the adventures are still you. MS can never take those from you. I found it helpful to accept the MS. I tried so long to resist its presence. This only made the elephant larger. In addressing it, I was able to extinguish the fear.

Ultimately, we are in this together. You are not alone in any of your stinking thinking. When the chatter gets loud, take an action step. Envision a dimmer switch. Every time your thoughts become too loud, dim the switch. Imagine the pleasant din of quiet in its place. If you are so inclined, invite a positive thought to take its place.

Nourish your psyche. Starve the MS.

***

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.

Comments

Ken klein avatar

Ken klein

I always feel better and inspired after reading Jennifers Silver linings

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Ken,

I truly appreciate your saying so and am grateful to have you as a reader. Stay safe and well.

Kindly,
Jenn

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Carol avatar

Carol

What you talk about I used to practice regularly but somehow got away from its basic principles. Thank you Jen for reminding me to just be better and it will have its Rewards rather you have MS or not

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Carol,

Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge to remind us of what we are missing. Myself included!

Kindly,
Jenn

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Sonja Holland avatar

Sonja Holland

A reminder...the elephant in the room will not be bigger than us

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Sonja,

Never!!!

Jenn

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Peter scott avatar

Peter scott

I have NMOSD your words will stay with me. Thank you

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Cyn avatar

Cyn

Me ,too. Thank you Jennifer .
Your column is always uplifting.

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Thank you so much Cyn

Kindly,
Jenn

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Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

It is so hard to continue to be positive when each day there is a new thing I can't do. I do appreciate the Silver Linings as it reminds me I am not the only one.

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Leanne,

It is hard. I have those days and weeks too. Remind yourself to take comfort in all steps which will help build on themselves. You will get there!

Kindly,
Jenn

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Phil Kirschbaum avatar

Phil Kirschbaum

Wonderful essay. I’ve written an essay which is my longer version of an answer to the question, “How are you?” I’’d be glad to share if you’re interested.
Thanks again for your good work.

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Phil,

Thank you so much for responding. I would enjoy reading that, would you let me know where I can read?

Kindly,
Jenn

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Cindy avatar

Cindy

Thank you for putting into words how I feel. I must remember I am not MS! I am a person who has a lot to give.
Cindy

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Cindy,

Thank you so much for writing! Although MS can look like it is taking over, we are still here to tell it to back off!! I like to say that MS is an aspect of an otherwise beautiful life.

Kindly,
Jenn

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Steve Johns avatar

Steve Johns

Humans have 3 'souls', both 'souls' of our feet and an arse 'soul'. Which 'soul' are you feeding?

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Elizabeth avatar

Elizabeth

Yes it is a challenge to have MS and then a real life thing happens and it gets harder! My teenage son died 3 weeks ago, my teenage daughter hates me and thanks to MS my 9 year old lives with her dad in another state!! I would so welcome a positive take on this!!

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Elizabeth,

I wish I had the right words to say or some sage wisdom that could ease your pain. Please accept my sincerest condolences on the tragic loss of your son. I cannot imagine your grief. Please give yourself so much gentle love and latitude. Do you have a support system in which to help you through?

I do believe so many teens, myself included, experience deep disdain for their parents during their adolescence. And I am sorry that your 9-year-old lives so very far away. You have and continue to experience extreme loss. I wish I could wrap you in a warm hug and let you grieve. I am sending you prayers and love in abundance.

The situations we cope with in life can be painful and downright bad. Our disease can exacerbate this and even create pain of its own - both emotional and physical. I will not placate you and say there is anything positive about the loss of a child, or another living so far away. I will, however, challenge you to find a reason to carry on. A reason you wake up in the morning and another which allows you to smile. Today, I am thankful for you. I am grateful for your letter and the time you took to write.

Please check-in and let me know how you are. My thoughts are with you.

Warmly,
Jenn

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David A. Wynsen avatar

David A. Wynsen

Hi, all. I am an MS-er. I am older (70 -- Yikes!) I was first stricken with the MS-curse when I was 29. I had the usual sorts of symptoms and a very strong emotional reaction. At that time, MS was thought (by many) to be a fatal disease. I thought so, too, but I tried to keep my fears and anxiety to myself. I wanted to protect my young wife from worry. I believed that I was being successful. Boy, was I wrong. Rather than letting her share in my fear and grief I had shut her out for several years. My selfishness (YES, selfishness) caused her a lot of needless pain. This was made even worse since, at that time, we were expecting our first child after 2 horrible miscarriages.

We now have 2 adult daughters who live nearby. We also are blessed with 4 g'children! Our daughters/families are here in our home several times/wk!!

My advice is to NOT allow MS to prevent you from having children and from enjoying life as much as your circumstances allow. an MS-diagnosis is NOT the end; it can be a beautiful beginning.

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

David,

Let me preface with 70 is not old or alarming! Noe that we have that sorted, I congratulate passing your wisdom to younger generations. My greatest honor is to leave the path easier to navigate for those who follow. You are doing exactly this. MS is a part of an otherwise amazing life. I wish you an abundance f wellness in the new year.

Kindly,
Jenn

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Steve,

I suppose whichever will listen, haha! Sometimes they both get hungry.

Kindly,
Jenn

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Robin England avatar

Robin England

I often think I could have another disease worse than MS so I am lucky to be here and still mobile even with a walker.

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Robin,

What a beautiful way of turning MS into a blessing! I will learn from you!!

Kindly,
Jenn

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Marie avatar

Marie

Liked the article I read about negative thoughts. Going to do it. Thanks

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Alison avatar

Alison

Wow Jennifer, what you say is so uplifting, and makes good sense - thank you!

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Kimberly Hesse avatar

Kimberly Hesse

Hi everyone,
I am a 54 year old female and just received my diagnosis yesterday after losing eyesight in right eye. I've always been a glass is half full person, but this has just thrown me for a loop! I'll reading all of your articles and comments. #mswarrior

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Kimberly,

I am so so sorry it has taken me too long to respond. How are you doing? You were recently diagnosed and I can only imagine how that has been for you.

It is okay to allow yourself the natural feelings of sadness and disappointment. This does not mean you are not a glass half full person, it means you are grieving. You can hold both. I understand just how difficult that can be.

I am sending you an abundance prayers as well as a gentle squeeze. You are an absolute MS Warrior!

Warmly,
Jenn

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Marcy avatar

Marcy

Well I am one person who has more than one serious disease. My neurologist told me early on that my diagnosis did not shield me from other health challenges, and I’m glad she did. With the love and support of two sons and many friends, I have kept a positive attitude. I find one silver lining is that I focus on how fortunate I am.

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Marcy,

Having several illnesses present can be tricky, yet it looks like you have taken it in stride. Thank you for reminding us how beneficial attitude can be.

Kindly,
JENN

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Marcy,

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and gratitude. Your ability to see fortitude outside of this disease is a huge blessing. Keep up the wonderful perspective!
Kindly,
Jenn

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Brian O’Neill avatar

Brian O’Neill

“follow each negative thought with a positive one” a great quote. We all have negative thoughts, and to follow or “dim” the negative is great advice!

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Brian,

Thank you so much for your feedback! I appreciate the time it takes to respond and it means a great deal.

Kindly,
Jenn

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Brian,

Thank you so much for your kindness. This method has worked well for me and I look forward to hearing if it is as helpful for you.

Warmly,
Jenn

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Deb avatar

Deb

I loved this post. Thank you for your insight. I am just going through the process of trying to get a diagnosis with scarce healthcare availability. Dealing with the anger and grief associated with this process seems to have taken over my life. It was helpful, in the course of this journey to be reminded that there are silver linings, and people who take the time to remind us of the same. Thank you.

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Deb,

Thank you so much for writing. I am grateful this spoke to you. Your anger and grief are so validated and completely normal. When it overtakes our being is when we need to re-evaluate. You are taking the most difficult steps in creating a new narrative and that is so powerful! Well done in being mindful of what you deserve Again, my deepest appreciation for letting me know how this impacted you. Sending you wishes of wellness along with the reminder that you are never alone.

Kindly,
Jenn

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Ann e avatar

Ann e

Dear. Jen,
I have had ms for 52yyears and I still keep going. This January I will be 86 and I get around in a wheelchair and enjoy my family and friends. I try to get with my dog at least once a day. It took17 years to get a diagnoses, although I knew something was wrong with me..
It took the mri machine to get a diagnoses ochronic ms. And i have
Had cancer, two strokes. And some surgeries too
However, I keep goin.
The corona virus has made me very sadandanxious buthopefully we will on ure it too.
Fondly , annef

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hello Anne,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. You are an inspiration as you keep moving forward, despite all the struggles which have come your way. I encourage you to disseminate the sadness and anxiety in much the same way. Break them down into manageable parts and keep on swimming. Sometimes behavior follows action steps. You will get through this one day at a time.

Warmly,
Jenn

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Peter scott avatar

Peter scott

I have recently found out I have NMOSD its an ms mimic desease but have found your wise words very healing to me thank you

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Peter,

Thank you so much for writing. NMOSD mimics MS and I am grateful you were correctly diagnosed. I very much appreciate your kind words and wish you well.

Warmly,
Jenn

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Marlene avatar

Marlene

Been surfing the web (looking for info on MS) for days now and so lost in it..drowning is a good word. My son has recently (two days before Thanksgiving 2020) been diagnosed MS and now we are in this vicious circle of -devastation-grief-heartbroken-panic-hope-lost hope-panicking-tears emerging-devastated! Hope is in there but it’s going to take time and I feel this time next year, my circle of emotions will be mainly of hope and less of the other stuff.
I guess it’s the unknown part of how this disease will progress in my son that scares me. He’s 21 and in his senior year studying to be an electrical engineer. He has his whole life ahead of him and now it’s shadowed with doubt, fear, unknown, and what pain will he suffer with?As a parent, we protect our kids cause we love them and I couldn’t protect him from this. No one can but still...it’s so so hard to handle. I know that every tear I shed makes me stronger and I am ready for this fight cause my son will never ever fight this alone......
So back to why I am leaving a comment, I want to thank everyone for their comments, their personal journeys with MS and their messages of hope.
Thank you for giving me some much needed hope.

Marlene

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Dear Marlene,

Thank you for writing, I can feel the pain in your words and am sending you a warm embrace. I recall my own diagnosis and the grief my parents experienced. As difficult as this diagnosis is, the love you have for your son will help him through this challenging period.

Your emotions will be raw and erratic for some time. Give yourself grace and patience as it will take time to fully accept this new normal. The unknown is hard to accept, and I enourage you to take things one day at a time. The advances in disease-modifying treatments have me very hopeful. His neurologist will know which treatment is best suited for his disease type. Most importantly, know that neither of you are alone. So much of our ability to thrive with MS is due in large part to our support network.

Marlene, please know I am keeping both of you in my heart and prayers. Thank you for trusting me with this. I hope to hear updates on how both of you are doing.

Warmly,
Jenn

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Holly Brownrigg avatar

Holly Brownrigg

Ahhhh all the different paths that lead us to insight..... or not. This approach of insights is applicable to SO many “rehab” programs. Addictions are psychic survival methods as well. So many insights from MS experiences can be applied to other life “experiences”.

Reply
Lisa Dyson avatar

Lisa Dyson

Jenn,

This is so powerful. As a health and wellness coach and a leadership coach, when I found out I had MS in 2018 I was very positive about everything then I hit a wall of grief finally. I moved through it all and then was updated my MS is PPMS. Which again, was a shock. I needed to hear your words to remind me where I am and where I need to be.

Your words are very coach like and if you are not, you should be.

v/r,
Lisa

Reply
Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your kind comments. This disease, and its masnifestion, has a way of taking us by surprise. The grief took your breath away, but your positivity so beautifully remained resilient. I so appreciate your kindness and wish you health and wellness in the year ahead.

Warmly,
Jenn

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