Content Warning: some discussion of depression and negative self-talk. If you are depressed or know someone who is depressed and in need of help, please look at the resources available through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. You can find support groups, therapists, and treatment options here. You are not alone.
Before figuring out how to make adaptations to my parenting, I had to learn to be okay with my new normal. Parenting with MS requires a few extra steps but with some adaptability, it’s hard to notice that there’s a difference.
It’s frustrating that I can’t be the parent I want to be, but I have to be at peace with myself. No amount of changes can stand up to feeling discouraged about my situation. Discouragement is normal and should be honored when it occurs, but how I cope with that discouragement matters.
This isn’t meant to be taken as advice or “what should be done,” but an insight into how someone deals with their MS and what works for them. If you are a parent with MS or newly diagnosed, remember to be gentle with yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. You are doing the best you can and that’s the most important thing.
A Fight for Control
Recognizing that I have no control over my fatigue and mental fog is the first step I’ve had to take to accept my limitations. I find workarounds with my fatigue (more on that in Friday’s post) and mental fog, so I am not giving into the lack of control. I am accepting that I cannot control it and there’s a huge difference between the two.
Hi, my name is Deborah and I am a control freak.
I’ve admitted this several times on the blog. I like to be in control of every aspect of my life: from relationships to professional projects, I try and control everything so it can be what I perceive to be as perfect.
Psychology does not support this attitude: maintaining strict control over everything is the quickest way to be extremely stressed out and unhappy. It may cause everything to spin more out of control if I try too hard.
As the linked article points out: “Wanting control leads to anger; this emotional response increases when control is impeded.” The more I try to control my situation, the more frustrated I get and exacerbate the situation.
How do I try to control my MS?
There is a level of regression that occurs in my grieving process: I go into denial and try to forget that I have MS. I will push myself physically and mentally and completely ignore my body’s warning signs.
Looking at Spoon Theory: if I use up all of my reserves (and then some) I have the potential of not being able to do anything for the rest of the day and possibly the next day. This happens more than I care to admit because I just want to get everything done on my “to do” list.
That’s why working on my priorities every morning is so important.
Emotionally, I try to control my MS by being hard on myself. I will berate myself if I wasn’t able to do a particular task to my liking or if I don’t get a post/email/social media interaction out in a reasonable amount of time. I find that I will sink into a slight depression when I focus too much on what I can’t do for myself and my family.
MS cannot be controlled. Its very nature does not allow for control.
Most of my frustration stems from a belief that if someone else can handle multiple projects at one time, why do I struggle to do a single task? I am constantly comparing my abilities to others and wishing I measured up.