Emotions and Mental Well-being

I wanted to take some time today to write about how multiple sclerosis has affected my emotions and mental well-being since I was diagnosed and how I have dealt with them. It’s been a little over four months now since my symptoms began and all the stress of the situation has definitely taken its toll on my mental and emotional stability over the course of this time. I’m going to use the clich phrase that it has been “an emotional roller coaster” because quite frankly that is the best way to describe it, though, not all roller coasters are the same ride…

In life everyone handles different situations differently: some of us get sad, some of us get angry, some of us bury everything deep inside, and some of us can’t keep our mouths shut about our issues. I’m a very self-aware individual when it comes to my emotions and mental state of mind, I find psychology fascinating and like to use what little knowledge I have about psychology to observe people’s behaviors and try to predict how they will deal with certain situations. When it comes to psychology one however cannot be one’s own psychologist and so, though I am self-aware enough to recognize when I am not myself I can not always give myself the advice I need to hear. Everyone needs a third person perspective or someone to talk to when dealing with problems.
I have not gone in to see a psychiatrist yet, not that I’m opposed to it, I just simply haven’t started any sessions up. So far I have tried to deal with all my emotional ups and downs on my own and by talking to a select few of my close friends whom I trust greatly for advice. In retrospect I can see that there were several incidents that I may have handled in an unhealthy manner but what’s important is the fact that I can acknowledge that and learn from it, at least that’s my opinion.
So what exactly have I gone through emotionally and mentally? Well, I have always had problems with depression so naturally when I was first diagnosed I was having some issues there but honestly not that bad because I’ve learned to control and maintain my depression, in fact, there have been plenty of times in the past where I have become an emotional wreck over stupid little things so considering I handled my diagnosis as well as I did, I have to admit, I’m surprised with myself. My depressive state did not last very long, the main issue I have been dealing with is irritability which could in fact be a result of all the steroids I’ve been on but I’m not sure.
The thing about emotions is that sometimes, if not always, it’s really hard to distinguish where certain emotions or thoughts are coming from. Life for a human being inevitably comes with stress and so life for someone with multiple sclerosis comes with that predestined stress with an additional load on top of that and both forms of stress pretty much blend together. My point is that one day I might just be feeling really, really, irritable and for that day in particular there’s a good chance I can blame that irritability on my steroids, on my frustration with my symptoms, or on something that simply pissed me off earlier in the day but there is really no way to know what caused that irritability for sure. I can only assume that it all slowly builds my stress levels until I finally crack and lose it.
Now I want to talk about a recent period of time where I knew I was handling my emotional issues incorrectly but did not know what to do properly. I recently went through a short stage of depression and severe irritability after my last IV treatment. I had no idea how to manage those emotions and so my mind went into self-defense mode. I buried my emotions inside and began to withdraw from everyone not just emotionally but literally. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want anything but to be alone and I knew that it was unhealthy, I knew that that was not the proper way to handle my situation, but I didn’t know what to do differently so I didn’t do anything different… It was a miserable week but finally I was able to slowly get a hold of myself but only because I slowly forced myself to talk to people so I could get some different perspectives. Hopefully what I learned on my own will be enough to prevent this from happening again in the future but I can’t be sure, I just know that I am still open to the idea of seeing a psychiatrist not because I think they have the answer to all my problems (because they don’t) but because I’m simply interested in getting some feedback from a third person perspective, specifically from someone who is not a friend and most likely has no bias to guide what they have to say.
So my only advice to anyone out there dealing with some tough emotions is to talk to somebody, someone who preferably can give you an honest, non-bias, third person perspective on your situation. If you don’t get a third person perspective than the only thoughts and emotions you have to deal with are the ones that are already in your head and that’s not going to get you anywhere new, you have to add some different ingredients to get some different results. If you keep all your motions buried deep down inside they are only going to build up and add stress making your situation worse, keeping your emotions buried inside is pointless anyways, the always make their way out eventually so talk to someone!

2 Responses to Emotions and Mental Well-being

  1. Soph says:

    Nice article! I suppose you're right about talking to someone; I was told to find myself a psychiatrist as well. Still thinking about it though.

    Does it bother you now that you used to get worked up over "stupid little things"? I used to do that a lot (to the point of whining all the time on a bad day) and I only stopped it about a year ago, when my life improved a lot. Now that I have to deal with this mess, I sometimes regret not having tried to be more sober and/or cheerful for most of my life. :/

    (Re: your last post and "MS does not define me": Although I would say the same about myself, I found myself trying the word on, so to speak, when I got my diagnosis. "I have MS" – does it fit me? Can that possibly be a part of me? Weird.)

  2. Matt Allen G says:

    Thanks! Does it bother me? Well, I would say it frustrates me when* I find myself loosing it over stupid little things. Its frustrating because I can actually tell while I'm loosing it that my tolerance levels have lowered, so ill find myself loosing it in a situation that I know I could usually handle better. It's weird…

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