Rest and Regroup

Take a deep breath.  You can handle this.  You have some time to get organized.

So give yourself some time to absorb the news. It's a blow and you have a lot of fears and questions. We've been there and know how much energy it takes to work through all that and you're going to need your energy to learn, plan, and start your treatment. Before you do, give yourself permission to take time to react, rest and regroup. Grief is a natural response and you may need to go through all or some of its phases--from denial to anger to acceptance--before you are ready to even share the news or talk about it.

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.  Go out with a friend.  Pamper yourself with a massage.  Go shopping.  Exercise. Indulge in some really decadent ice cream.  Maybe just have a good hard cry.  Once you've done that you will be better able to muster up the energy to move forward. 

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.  If you need to call one of the MS hotlines set up to give you confidential, safe, and knowledgable support.