One thing that shocked me about being an MS patient was how isolating it was.
I live with seven other people, a cat and a dog and a bearded dragon lizard. My house is full of chaos, clamor, shrieking and screaming, fighting and barking, meowing and the slamming of doors. Music is blaring from a teenager's room, a TV is on full blast, and someone is screaming bloody murder in the backyard. How is it even possible that I would feel so alone?
I have many friends and family, six children and a husband who is the most supportive partner that anyone could ever ask for. Yet, on some days I feel alone. I feel that my experience with MS is unique amongst the people I know and care about. On bad days, I find myself yelling at my loved ones "You don't understand! You can't possibly know what I feel like! You don't have THIS DISEASE." I always feel horribly bad afterward, seeing the looks of sadness on their faces. They want to understand, they try, but how can they?
It is so important to connect with other MS patients. There are always local support groups for patients, and if anyone needs resources, the National MS Society has listings of local organizations. The experience of having this disease is a unique one, and being such a rare illness, many patients know no one else with MS. It is an illness that masquerades as many other things, makes you feel insane, and depression and anxiety go hand in hand with the diagnosis.
I have my "pity party" days.
Those days when I think I have it worse than anyone on Earth. But I encourage you to look around at the rest of the world. The poverty, the war, and suffering. Things could be so much worse, right? Gratitude is a skill, a practice, something you have to work at. Look around at the good things in your life, do the things you love to do. Find that passion that drives you, and surround yourself with people who are positive and like-minded.
It helps so much to visit MS patient sites where you can ask: Has anyone else had a burning sensation on the skin? Has anyone else had a rhythmic buzzing sensation on the legs? Has anyone else had this specific symptom? Even after 5 years with MS, I awake to a new symptom on many mornings. It's like Forrest Gump's "Box of Chocolates" except you hate every single one!
A sense of humor is what gets me through the day. Keep your chin up, keep your spirits up, and do your best to tell yourself that things could be worse. Reach out for help if you need it, and find a great MS patient site to access when you need to. Help is out there, and you are most definitely NOT alone!