Dealing With “The Fear”
Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will experience “the fear” at various stages of their journey. Fear is omnipresent and there are many layers I feel, but if I gave in to it all the time I’d never get out of bed, push myself, or get anything done. Giving in to fear lets MS win, so we need to develop strategies for dealing with fear and coming out on top.
What Are We Afraid Of?
There are many different types of fear when dealing with MS:
Cast your mind back to the weeks and months before the neurologist finally confirmed your worst fears and told you it was MS. That was a pretty scary time for me and I fought this particular fear with denial.
I buried my head firmly in the sand and refused to acknowledge my symptoms might be something serious. Many people find diagnosis a relief after the months of uncertainty, but for me it was a bombshell that blew up in my face and forced me out of my comfortable denial.
Many people don’t know anything about MS when they’re diagnosed, and researching the prognosis can be terrifying. Every relapse gives us a glimpse of what might happen in the future as disability sets in and the fear of progression is always with us.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worrying about the future and stressing about what may or may not happen. This can be a frightening, lonely place we all revisit from time to time even when we’re feeling good.
Any new situation sets the fear off in me! What if I can’t park? What if I can’t get my scooter out of the car? What if there are no toilets nearby? I’ve canceled plans so many times due to rising panic that normally starts a few days before I have to face a new situation or place, leaving me feeling like a failure and missing out.
This is a particularly worrying fear that links in with the fear of new situations. Many of us with bladder and bowel problems live in constant fear of having accidents outside the safety of our homes. This has never actually happened to me, but the fear of it happening has definitely kept me awake at night!
I also worry about falling over in public and not being able to get up again. My friend had this happen to her at work and needed to be heaved up by several colleagues. Oh the humiliation!\