My Anxiety, MS and Me

'But the one thing that never fails to help with my anxiety is ‘my dog’ Pete. He has been there when I was first diagnosed with anxiety, then MS and then depression. He seems to know when I need him'. Katie St Lawrence

Anxiety and depression are both symptoms and side effects of having Multiple Sclerosis. I am lucky enough to have both!!

I was 19 years old when I first started having problems with my anxiety. I was beginning to suffer from panic attacks and decided to get help.  At first, I didn’t know what they were but after talking to the doctor she quickly knew and put me on medication. I have never made it a secret that I take medication for my anxiety, why should I? It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. So the same rules applied when I was diagnosed with depression.

I have to admit my anxiety still gets the better of me sometimes. With it I tend to over think and when I over think I can go from now to 5 years in time. Even thinking about a problem and creating one that was never there in the first place. Since getting diagnosis with MS, I tend to worry and over think even more about that as well and my everyday life problems. With MS it can be over thinking on the little things.

When I’m making plans that are slightly in the future, I worry; will I wake up that day and be sick or worse relapse? Will I have to cancel my plans? Will there be a lot of walking, will it leave me tired and sore? Then there is the thinking about my future with MS and then I can over think 50 years ahead. Such things like, will I even be here in 50 years times to what will I be like using a walking aid or a wheel chair.

Some of my biggest issues that I worry about in relation to my MS are:

  • When will the next relapse be?
  • Will they change my medication that has been working for so long on me?
  • Will I ever need to use a walking aid and if so when will that be?

I try to remind myself that with MS it is so unpredictable and other than continuing to take my medication, I have to avoid as much stress as possible;  try to get a good night sleep and that there is not much I can do. If a relapse is going to happen it’s going to happen.

Tips and Tricks to Help with My Anxiety

Over the years I have found some useful tips and tricks to help with my anxiety. Of course, there is taking the daily medication to help treat it and keep it at bay. I have also found some other techniques on the internet and by talking to other people who also suffer with anxiety. In secondary school we did guided meditation and even though at the time I loved it, I never took it up until about a year ago. I discovered apps that helped you do guided meditation and can be downloaded for free - there are loads of options of stories to listen to from ocean waves to walks in a forest, with topics for sleep to stress. I now use this app maybe not every day but I tend to listen to it at night. It helps me to really de-stress, clear my mind and unwind. I also have an ocean light for my room that projects ocean patterns on the ceiling and walls this really helps me to calm down when using the app.

But the one thing that never fails to help with my anxiety is ‘my dog’ Pete. He has been there when I was first diagnosed with anxiety, then MS and then depression. He seems to know when I need him. One little wag of his tail and that goofy smile he has on his face would cheer anyone up. He helps me forget my worries. It’s very hard not to love him. Sometimes he just knows that you need someone there and he decides not to leave your side until you are happy again.

So to leave this blog on a happy note. Yes having anxiety and MS together can suck but there are so many resources out there to help from apps to medication and there are loads of support networks that you shouldn’t have to suffer alone. Also get yourself a pet they are just amazing.