October 8, 2016
I wanted to write this blog about Type A personalities and MS.
You know, the difficulties that over achievers, uber busy people have with having to de-stress, rest and take it easy because of the MonSter.
But in researching (yes, I do research my blogs), I came across an online publication that was too good to keep to myself.
Personality, Behaviour and Multiple Sclerosis
by a “group of psychologists, neuropsychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists, members of the Psychology and Neuropsychology Special Interest Group of R.I.M.S. (Rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis) with the support of the MS Society, UK.”
So, I figured they know what they are talking about. Surprise, surprise, those of us living with MS have a higher prevalence of negative feelings
But, we may also experience changes in our core personality and behaviour.
It’s important. We need to know. Our family and loved ones need to know. So we can protect important relationships.
Our health is fragile. Our careers may be less ‘everything’ than they once were.
Our family and friends and our relationships with them must be preserved and not just collateral damage, taken too soon by the MonSter.
I will summarise some of the key points here, but on this occasion I really, really urge you to read the short 24 page pdf. And then get your partner to read it.
Use it as a conversation starter:
- How much do you or they feel this resembles you?
- What challenges has it had on your relationship?
- Are there early warning signs?
- What can you do (together) to strengthen your relationship so it can survive. (Do you want to – be honest. I’ve many FB friends with MS who are deliberately and happily alone.)
The authors categorise the behavioural changes by:
- Psychological causes – which are the result of changes in your environment: health, work, living. Often this triggers the 5 stages of grief. It takes time to get to acceptance.
The good news is you don’t have to ‘get over’ or ‘accept’ your dx within minutes, weeks, months or even years of leaving the doctor’s office. It can take time. And if you think you need professional help – get it.
- Organic causes – which are caused by MS, at least the lesions and where they are in your brain. And just as we can get our sight, limbs, physical feelings back as remission occurs, organic changes may also remit.
Commonly, organic causes include depression, euphoria, emotional swings, flat emotions, uncontrolled laugher or crying, lack of emotional intelligence, judgement or empathy, apathy.
Sound toxic to relationships?
And we can’t forget the final cause – Medications.
Many of the drugs that support us #beatMS or #beatDepression suppress emotions and then trigger some of the psychological or organic causes.
So, you’ve ticked one or more of the boxes. What do you do now?
I have no medical training. But I am married and a friend.
Don’t, for the love of God and for the sake of your future, DON’T go it alone.
Reach out to your loved ones for support. Reach out to your medical practioner for advice and support.
Seek counselling – either alone or as a couple.
Consider any behavioural triggers so you can develop strategies or game plans to beat them. Know thyself to heal thyself. Are certain seasons harder on your body and are having an impact on you? Times of the year? Anniversaries? Does the anticipation of attending (family) events where you cant avoid certain people trigger insomnia/anxiety? Does public speaking trigger disinhibited behaviour which affects your credibility?
Remember, You are not alone. And you are made strong enough.