Excising the Complaints in My Life Helps Me Manage MS

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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optimism, meditation, fear, emotions, judgment, reflecting, cog fog, positivity

I failed the complaint challenge.

The goal was to go 24 hours without complaining — no complaining about anything. Yet while the objective is commendable, a win is nearly impossible.

I’m not much of a complainer, and I still fell short. I’d venture to say that many others would, too, which is OK.

In a society fraught with idealism, we must consider reality and context. Without the latter pair, we would set ourselves up for disappointment. We’d have unrealistic expectations rather than setting attainable goals. We’d become motivated by fear rather than a desire to better ourselves. In such a setting, we may have a weekend without complaints, but our behavior wouldn’t change.

There are moments throughout the day when I lament MS. The vast majority of these are autonomic and in response to falling over thin air or dropping yet another dish. These utterances allow me to exhale the everyday frustrations this disease brings. They help to sustain my mental health. Mostly, I’ll say things under my breath or in the presence of my dog.

I do try to keep the grumbles in check, though. While MS gives me a reason to complain, doing so can be counterproductive to my heath.

If you can relate, try to counter your complaints with something you are grateful for. This exercise helps me to refocus my negative energy, and it may help you, too.

For example, this morning, my fatigue was overwhelming. But I was able to use gratitude to create a place to rest, so to speak, which helped minimize the negative messaging to both myself and those in my presence.

This exercise helps more than the psyche, as empirical evidence suggests that positive messaging has additional benefits. Conversely, the opposite is true for negative messaging.

Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which when elevated can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Alternatively, a positive mindset releases the neurotransmitter dopamine and perpetuates well-being. What we say both to ourselves and to the universe affects our well-being.

Our reality is undoubtedly challenging. Living with this disease is extremely difficult. These suggestions are simply meant to be implemented in tandem with life, not to replace our reality. It is OK to have both.

Some days we are fatigued, in pain, or frustrated. If this is you, allow yourself to remain in these emotions for a while. Call a friend, family member, or member of your local support group, because talking about our feelings is vital to maintaining emotional well-being. Succumbing to negativity can be counterproductive, and it isn’t sustainable.

At times, finding joy is a deliberate choice. I often choose positivity while dealing with pain and frustration, which has helped me as my disease progresses. I can better manage certain aspects of this disease that otherwise would leave me in tears.

Of course, on some days, I do cry, because tears are a necessary catharsis that cleanses my soul. Like through a freshly washed window, the light filters in. I smile, dry my eyes, and begin anew.


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.


Jeanne Gagnon avatar

Jeanne Gagnon

What a wonderful column, Jennifer!

It makes me appreciate what my 15-year old grandson has been going through every day for the past 2 1/2 years. It also reminds me that he's not just a "teenager".

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Dear Jeanne,

Thank you so much for taking the time to both read my column and respond. I appreciate your kind words. Sometimes, a little perspective can help us appreciate a situation better. Your grandson is lucky to have you.

Stay safe and well,

Bradley Dell avatar

Bradley Dell

Always touch my heart with your words!


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