Dealing With The Bad Days In Multiple Sclerosis

You Can Endure the Rough Times

Some Days are Worse Than Others in MS
Some Days are Worse Than Others in MS. Yuri Arcurs/Getty Images

Most people living with multiple sclerosis feel poorly at least some of the time. In fact, many would likely say that they spend large portions of their days feeling downright horrible. For some, their“good days” would still inspire people without MS to call in sick to work and lay in bed.

But it can be difficult to express how badly you feel or your fear, worries, and/or frustrations over your disease to others.

Others often just simply cannot understand how hard it really is. This can lead feelings of loneliness and isolation from those who love us.

So what is the solution? What do you do when you feel bad, but don’t want pity? When you want to feel better, but know that might not happen (at least physically) in the immediate future?

Here are some tips on how to get past some of the worst parts of MS:

Tip #1: Never Compare

Yes, it is true that there are many, many people who do not have to deal with MS, who are seeming to get off “scot-free,” while you have to strategically plan how to get enough rest to function throughout the day. It is also very true that there are many people worse off than we are at any point in time, due to health or other reasons.

But comparing yourself to people on either side of the “suffering spectrum” is not productive. The world is a harsh place. Without a doubt, some people get more of a taste than others of this harshness, much of it beyond anyone’s control.

One way to make sense of any of it is to do what you can to alleviate suffering (my own or others’) through small gestures or temporary “remedies” or even loud screams. Focusing on the “why,” especially the “why me?” or “why not me?” is likely not going to be helpful.

Tip #2: Embrace the Tiny Good Things

What is your favorite Jelly Belly flavor?

What was your imaginary friend’s name when you were little? What is your favorite quote? If you could order any dessert right now, what would it be? What is the funniest dog name you have ever heard? At times life is a gray place, but there are shiny specks in any existence. Make a point of hunting for them at times and you might be surprised at what you find.

For instance, try going as far as coming up with a favorite memory or mental picture to call upon in your dark hours. For me, I have a “photo” in my head of my twins’ toes when they were six months old—20 of them, pink and perfect. This memory has gotten me through infusions, injections, MS hugs and MRIs, and made those things a little more pleasant and a little easier to endure.

Tip #3: Go Ahead and Get Mad or Sad (or Whatever). Just Make Sure that You Stop at Some Point

Those of us with MS (and our families and loved ones) have been dealt a blow with our MS diagnoses.

There is no doubt about that. No one should be expected to absorb a situation that changes our lives, our futures, our dreams, and not be bitter about it at times.

That being said, try digging deeper and grappling with your emotions in order to live with them productively, rather than ignoring them.

Remember, you or your loved one is not alone in their negative emotions—and it's okay not to be brave all of the time, to cry when it hurts, to scream when it might help ease some stress.

With that, here is a difference in feeling sad for a short time period and depression. Depression is a very real symptom of MS. If you have MS and feel very sad or have no interest in things around you, you need to seek help. Depression is common in MS and can be treated effectively.

Tip #4: Find “Grace” in Feeling Unwell

When you am feeling particularly bad, it is difficult not to let your mind race forward an hour, a month, a year, ten years and wonder, will I still be feeling like this?

Will I feel worse?” It is also hard to not start searching for a reason for feeling bad: Is it a relapse? Am I progressing? Is my treatment no longer working? Should I have stopped/started/changed that medication? What am I doing wrong?

In these instances, try engaging in a relaxing remedy like napping, light yoga, or meditation—simply be still physically, mentally, and emotionally. Giving yourself a mini-vacation from life's chaos can do wonders for your soul, and give hopefully give you a little peace of mind. 

Tip #5: Have Your “Go To” Person

It's important to have a friend or family member who you can say what you are really feeling (physically and emotionally) in a safe place, which can give you the strength to leave those feelings in that place and go make dinner for your families or help with homework.

A Word From Verywell

There is an element of suffering MS, both physically and emotionally, and this will vary, based on a person's unique symptoms. That being said, while you cannot control much of your MS disease state, you can control how you cope with it. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits and being kind to yourself is a good start.

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