After an multiple sclerosis diagnosis, it is common to experience many unique emotions. People often report feeling irritable, tearful, anxious, or distracted. They may describe themselves as depressed as a result of the diagnosis and unable to tolerate the idea of an uncertain future. These experiences are very normal. After any surprising, traumatic event, we are expected to take some time to adjust and come to grips with our feelings. Well-meaning friends and family members will sometimes encourage newly diagnosed people to “put mind over matter”, to “be strong”, to “not think about the MS”, or to “get over” their fears. Health care professionals observe that it may take several weeks or months to begin to adjust to the diagnosis, and it is not unusual to see people whose grieving process takes years. It helps to be able to resume normal activities – most people also say that it helps to talk about the feelings, fears, and confusion that go along with multiple sclerosis. A common and normal response is to over-analyze sensations that your body normally experiences. Over time, a person relearns their body and these normal sensations return to the background and cease to cause concern.
Patients and families need to realize that learning about multiple sclerosis is a process that will take time. It is impossible to learn everything quickly, which can lead to information overload. It is important to ask the questions that occur to you and to be gentle with yourself and your supporters as you explore this new world.