Dealing with Emotions

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Dealing with Emotions

Providing emotional support and physical care for someone with MS can be deeply rewarding. It can also be overwhelming. The strain of balancing care with other responsibilities can lead to feelings of martyrdom, anger, depression and guilt. One of the biggest mistakes Care Givers make is thinking they can handle everything alone. The key thing to remember is that you have to take care of yourself, too. If you don't, you may find it challenging to be a successful caregiver.

Caring for someone with multiple sclerosis (MS) can be as deeply satisfying as it is emotionally and physically exhausting. Most people with MS don't become so severely disabled that they require long-term care full time. But MS is unpredictable, and each person's experience with MS is different. Regardless of what kind of care a person with MS needs, it's important to remember that you — the caregiver — and the person you're caring for are in this together. Like any healthy relationship, this requires work from both of you. 

Is it common to have feelings of hopelessness & despair when watching a family member deteriorate?

It is not at all unusual for family Care Givers to experience feelings of grief in the midst of their everyday duties. Depressed mood—with feelings of hopelessness and despair—can be part of this experience.

Fear, sadness, anger, guilt and frustration may also be felt. Living with the losses of MS can bring up spiritual questions of meaning and value. Speaking with a counsellor or a mental health therapist/professional about these issues will help relieve their intensity. Carer support groups and counselling can both be access through Family Carers Ireland

How do I handle the fear of hurting or neglecting my loved one?

Acknowledging the fear of hurting or neglecting your loved one is a start. Very often this fear arises from the anger and frustration that Care Givers experience from their duties. Turning to other family members, friends, health professionals, or counsellors for needed support is an essential first step in preventing an occurrence

I often feel so anxious and overwhelmed when talking with doctors. How can I feel more confident and knowledgeable?

Be honest with medical professionals about the limits of your understanding of a difficult diagnosis or treatment option.

  • Take the time to do your homework (i.e. reflect on what you have been told).
  • Summarise your concerns in a few phrases so whoever you are speaking with can focus discussion on those concerns.
  • Be clear about what you do and don’t understand.
  • Be clear about what you can and cannot do. If your GP/Consultant does not have the time or skill to communicate in detail with you, ask if support staff (i.e. an MS Nurse specialist, medical social worker or your local MS Regional Office  is available to you.
  • Reach out to family and friends who have a medical background, discuss your knowledge gaps, and enlist their support for medical appointments when necessary.
  • Write down a list of questions to bring in to meetings with medical professionals, as it can often be easy to forget important questions when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  1. Although I cannot control the disease process, I need to remember I can control many aspects of how it affects me.
  2. I need to take care of myself so that I can continue doing the things that are most important.
  3. I need to simplify my life-style so that my time and energy are available for things that are really important at this time.
  4. I need to allow others to help me, because caring for my loved one is too big a job to be done by one person.
  5. I need to take one day at a time rather than worry about what may or may not happen in the future.
  6. I need to structure my day because a consistent schedule makes life easier.
  7. I need to have a sense of humour because laughter helps to put things in a more positive perspective.
  8. I need to remember that my loved one is not being difficult on purpose; rather the behaviour and emotions are being distorted by the illness.
  9. I need to focus on and enjoy what my loved one can still do rather than constantly lament over what is gone.
  10. I may need to increasingly depend upon other relationships for love and support.
  11. I need to frequently remind myself that I am doing the best that I can at this very moment.
  12. I may need to seek out spiritual support and nourish my spiritual life.
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