How to Avoid the Post-Diagnosis Dark Cloud

Aoife Kirwan
Written by
Aoife Kirwan

In December, My Body, My Mind, My Say hosted a Facebook Live for our community discussing multiple sclerosis and associated emotions. As we know, MS can affect people in many ways, and this event allowed those living with MS across the world to send in questions to be answered live by our two experts. Our first expert was Yolanda Higueras, a neuropsychologist from Spain, and our second expert was Life Coach Rosemarie Wilson, from the UK – who also happens to be living with MS. From emotions to post-diagnosis to mood swing management, no question was left unanswered.

After the event, I was given the opportunity to speak with Rosemarie again. She offered even more advice which, along with Yolanda’s insights during the discussion, turned out to be some great guidance for our community on how to manage moods and emotions that may be brought on by MS. Below is a recap of some of the key areas of advice we discussed both during and after the event. You can also watch the entire discussion again here.

Finding Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

When it comes to living with MS, there is certainly no textbook or video tutorial telling you how you should feel each day. Some days your mood may be positive and great, and some days it really isn’t – and that’s okay! According to Rosemarie, “the first thing (you need to do) is to recognise that you’re in control of your thoughts and therefore your emotions.” She also recommended reflecting on your mood to really pinpoint what is making you feel so low.

Once you’ve figured out what is bringing you down, Rosemarie suggests creating a stock of feel good memories, or things you like to do. That way, when your mood drops, you have something that will help give you a boost! “Your energy flows where your attention goes,” according to Rosemarie. She continues, “When you’re focusing on something negative, that’s where your energy goes, and it will zap you.”

Although it’s easy and natural to get caught up in negative “why me” feelings, she suggests that you recognize those feelings, embrace them, and then ultimately move on from them. Without the ability to leave those feelings in the past, it becomes far too easy to fall into the dark cloud post-diagnosis, and that’s not what we want!

Our next expert, Yolanda Higueras, highlights that it’s of paramount importance to truly know yourself and what makes you happy when trying to change your mood. Once you have discovered that, you can use that knowledge to ultimately help improve your overall thoughts. On the other hand, she states that

it is also important to be able to pinpoint what makes you stressed. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, she suggests trying to take a step back to figure out whether or not the things causing you stress are really worth it. Yolanda says it’s important to remember “you may have a disease, but you are a person first.” At the end of the day, it’s important to try to stay positive when you can, and self-aware when you can’t.

Additional Tips for Staying Positive

Here are some additional helpful tips on managing emotions that we discussed at the live stream:

  • Know yourself, and know what makes you happy.
  • Be aware of the things that stress you, or lower your mood.
  • Whether it’s getting out and about for a walk, drawing, having a bubble-bath or dancing around to your favourite song, take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy.
  • Create “feel good” memories that you can reflect on during emotionally challenging times.
  • Have a stock of things that will help improve your mood. For example, I keep a little box packed with some of my favourite things; chocolate, a face mask, fluffy socks, my favourite movie, a pack of popcorn and a scented candle.
  • Create a positive mantra for yourself. Saying something like “I feel happy. I feel uplifted,” or whatever you find appropriate. Using a positive mantra daily will help you to associate it with a positive mood.
  • Reject the idea of giving energy to things that are not important to you.
  • Seek support – in some cases it will help to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Sharing your feelings can often bring about feelings of positivity.

We hope you enjoyed both our live question and answer session, and our follow-up. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send them our way!

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