MS Awareness Week 2023: Supporting mental and emotional health in MS

26 Apr 2023

For Joanne, the support of her MS team for her childhood trauma, something that was not specifically MS-related, had a huge impact on her MS itself, and her ability to manage and improve her overall health.

She also explains how hindsight has shown her that, as an adult, living in a flat which was difficult to navigate alone and situated near neighbours who didn't feel safe were causing her to live in constant vigilance and high stress, which was upsetting and also negatively impacting her MS.

'I think my mental health was really impacting my physical health. Moving back home I felt safer and I started to feel better much more quickly. It's worked out really well because my mum has dementia so I can help her, and I'm still looking after my brother with MS.'

Joanne was signposted to various mental and emotional services, including a psychologist, local support groups, and a national and local mental health charity. Whilst still on a journey of her own, she wants to support others in kind, and volunteers at the local mental health charity she benefited from, to 'pay it forward'.

She works to be compassionate with herself, accepting the day as it comes, and she encourages those around her to do the same.

'Every day can be different, I can go to bed early, have my sleep apnea machine on, yet I'll wake up and I can barely move, or the incontinence gets worse - and you have to be compassionate with yourself and share with others, and support yourself and those around you.'

Encouraging mindfulness, or signposting people with MS to a mindfulness course, can help shift people's perspectives on themselves and their MS, which can have a big impact on their quality of life day to day.

'When they first tried to get me to do this mindful thing, I thought it was ridiculous, but they kept saying it would help, so I did it, and did it, and then it clicked… I did a mindfulness for MS course through the MS Society. If I meet a mental or emotional block now, instead of pushing away that pain and discomfort, I can look at it compassionately.'

5 ideas for mindfulness to share and encourage in clinic:

#MSMakesMe compassionate with my mind and my body

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