Rest and Regroup
Take a deep breath. While an MS diagnosis is a crisis, it isn’t an emergency that requires decisions in the next 48 hours. You have some time to get organized. First, give yourself some time to absorb the news. It takes a lot of energy to work through it, so give yourself permission to take time to react, rest and regroup. Grief is a natural response to this news and you may go through all or some of its phases from denial to anger.
Take care of yourself. Don’t just plow ahead as if nothing has happened. If it helps to keep your routine, that’s great, but if that leads you to ignore your needs and feelings, you may be adding to your stress. Do a few things for yourself that will help you calm down and feel comforted. Little things can really help. What makes you feel better? Maybe take a nap with your cat. Get some exercise or a massage. Go shopping. Indulge in some really decadent ice cream. Even just having a good hard cry can help you deal with the initial shock of the news, so you can muster up the energy to move ahead.
Attitude is (almost) everything. Be aware that your attitude can profoundly influence your experience of this disease and its affect on your life. It will also affect the attitudes of those around you—your doctors, family, and friends. That doesn’t mean you have to sugar coat it, but ultimately a positive, pro-active attitude will really help you make the best of it.
Don’t talk about it until you are ready to. If you need some time to absorb the news before you tell anyone, that’s OK. Take that time and wait to talk to people until you have the energy and information to answer their questions. Also, keep in mind that you may have major swings in your feelings about whether or not to share your news. This is normal. It’s best to think about it for a while before you act. Since each of us has our own set of circumstances and considerations, we have to look inside and decide what is best for ourselves.
Have one person to turn to. This is big news and you shouldn’t have to go it alone. For now, find one person you can really talk to who is able to help you thoughtfully sort through the feelings, information, and choices that lie ahead.