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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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Anger & Multiple Sclerosis

I’ve had many people ask me how I’m not bitter, mean & just flat out angry, with everything that I go through having Multiple Sclerosis. The truth? Just because those things don’t classify who I am as a person, doesn’t mean that I don’t have to deal with those emotions at times.

One of the things that I let people with MS know, especially the newly diagnosed, is that whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay. No one has the right to tell you how to ‘feel’. If we could control our emotions that easily, things would be a lot different in the world, that’s for sure.

I try to be a positive person, someone that can encourage others, but I’m also honest with how I feel with my MS. I’m not ALWAYS happy, I’m not ALWAYS positive, and that’s okay. I’ve accepted that. I wouldn’t be human if I was always Miss Happy-Go-Lucky, so to say.

A lot of people who don’t have MS, think that the anger and depression and all the ‘negative’ emotions, are only in the beginning, but that’s not true, for me at least. Until recently, I had NEVER had an MRI come back with NO NEW ACTIVITY. Every time I got in that horrible machine, I was hopeful that this time, it would be different. And for 4-years, that hope that things would be better, didn’t happen for me.

I was angry and sad and just felt hopeless, every time those MRI reports came back that had new/worsening lesions. Here I was, doing everything I was supposed to do with taking my DMT’s, trying to do my best to not aggravate my MS… with no luck. It was like I was doing everything by the book, and never getting a break.

I don’t want to sit here and tell you some of the things I did, thought, etc. when I reacted to the results, because it’s just ‘not me’. It was like, an out of body experience with the anger and sadness that overwhelmed me. Did I get past that? Yes, I did…. But it wasn’t easy. It didn’t always happen as quickly as I would have hoped.
I still deal with the anger, but it’s not an overwhelming type of anger. I get in my ‘moods’ where I’m just sitting here like, what did I do to deserve this? Haven’t I been through enough in my life? Don’t my kids deserve a mom that can do EVERYTHING for them and with them? Doesn’t my husband deserve the wife that he married?

I’m sitting here writing this, and I’m getting worked up about it. Because I’ve had a lot of time to think about all of this, and it’s depressing. Why am I writing this? Why am I showing people that have come to me for help that I need help sometimes too? That I’m not completely ‘put together’? I’ll tell you why, because I’m not a liar. That’s the cold hard truth.

I can sit here and tell you and so many others, that it’s going to be okay. And it will be okay, with time. There is no time frame on how long it will take to for things to level out, for things to calm down. But I can tell you that you aren’t alone. I can tell you that there are so many people out there who have your back. Complete strangers… that will be there for you, no questions asked.

I know that this isn’t my ‘normal’ type of writing. I try to stay positive… try to tell it like it is, with a sense of humor included. But there are some things that you just can’t sugar coat. I know I’ve talked about “Dealing with MS Diagnosis” before, but I didn’t sit there and elaborate on the negative emotions. Because who wants to do that?

What I have realized is that the anger, the bitterness, the sadness, and all of that… it has made me stronger. By feeling those emotions, dealing with them and getting better despite them, makes me stronger in the long run.

One thing that bothers me, about the representation of MS patients, coming from ads, graphics, whatever kind of marketing going on, is that there is always this positive person portrayed. This perfectly happy human being that doesn’t seem to be phased by anything. When, that’s a lie. I’m not saying it’s wrong to portray happiness & positivity. But with that, there is so much more going on. Are those people just putting on their ‘mask’ for the public eye? Is the happiness real?

Throughout all of this, I am happy with where I am. Yes, I have Multiple Sclerosis. Yes, I’ve felt things and done things that I wouldn’t have normally done. But all of that together, makes me who I am. I try to not ‘show it’ when I’m angry, depressed, sad… but I don’t know how well I’m hiding it. I don’t think I should have to hide it. Because in reality, there is no perfect, happy, positive person living with MS, that hasn’t been affected by negativity, anger, and depression.

So, what’s my point in all of this? It’s that, no matter what… you aren’t alone. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to ‘get over it’. Don’t let something you see make you feel isolated. You have the right to feel how you feel, but I’m telling you from experience… don’t let it take over your life. Don’t let it change who you are in a bad way. Learn from it, become stronger from it, and keep fighting. Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to others when you are down, or just need to vent. Don’t keep the anger and negativity bottled up… because it will become too much at some point, and you will explode. Trust me on that.

Ashley Ringstaff

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MULTIPLESCLEROSIS.NET
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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