Some days you feel grey although the sun is shining. You want to think that these days are normal, but inside, you feel sad or exhausted. Sometimes you are in pain. Sometimes you just want to go back to bed and get under the blankets and just take some time away from life. These depressive phases are not nice and can be really challenging. When you’re struggling with these symptoms it’s natural to feel powerless to deal with the situation on your own. But at least moments like these serve a purpose; they are signs that you should seek out help.
These feelings are sometimes called the invisible symptoms of MS. We know a lot of people must deal with symptoms like these. But they’re not always easy to identify. When you experience depressive phases, it’s easy to feel like keeping to yourself. When people ask: “Why are you so sad today?” or “How can I help you?”. These questions aren’t always helpful. Just being there for someone going through depressive symptoms can often be the best thing you can do to help. Being the shoulder to lean on, or simply just sitting with someone can be what a person needs when they’re down.
Depression is serious and all too common. During the last few months, it’s become clear that lots of people have struggled with it. The pandemic has intensified this feeling of isolation and depression and made it difficult to lean on somebody’s shoulder when you need to, due to social distancing.
Finding resilience through the depression
Living through depressive phases is something I have learned to deal with. I am a very strong and resilient person, so I know that I can find ways to deal with it. Some days I just need to sit down, take a time out, and refresh my soul by getting out in nature or by reading a good book. Then it is important to stand up and move forward. I know that this is a hard skill to learn, and I am grateful that I can do this. Another solution is to ask for a teleconsultation with a counsellor or psychologist. This is available in many countries.
But one of the best resources to turn to when you need it is the MS Community itself. These people understand exactly what you are dealing with. They know what social isolation feels like. Living with MS unfortunately means feeling isolated from time to time. And this community has always helped me. The people in this community are very empathic and sensitive because they are all in similar situations. “You are not alone”, a friend said to me years ago. At this time, he was just a community member and now over the years he has become a very good friend. When I am sleepless, someone is always online to talk.
Gaining strength through connection
I now have the feeling that I am not alone. The community is my companion and although many people are online, it’s a very down to earth network. I also am available to help others if they come to ask for support. Whether that’s on Facebook, or on Twitter or Instagram.
The MS community is a wonderful community. I have found a network which is there for me, not only on bad days, but on good days too. We laugh together, have fun, and talk about things other than MS. We talk about our lives, funny experiences, and give advice to each other when we see someone’s suffering. It is peer-to-peer support at its best. Because we understand MS.
A few days ago, I fell into a dark hole and felt extremely isolated. I think this is one of the natural side effects of the pandemic: to feel isolated. But due to my MS, I felt like I was in my own personal quarantine as well. So, I went online and told the community what was going on and got support. None of this “you have to do this or that” or “you must do that”. The community was just there for me. They listened. And gave me a virtual shoulder to lean on. It helped and after a few days I was able to stand up, come out of the hole and begin to move forward. It is not over completely, I still need to work on this, but the community helps me put one foot in front of the other.
A One to One community
This is what makes the MS community so special. The only thing you have to do when you’re feeling low is reach out to the community online. It is there whenever you need it. And will welcome you at any time. It’s a place to share advice and ideas, and as a community it’s important to connect. Because even though we have MS, we are #StrongerTogether.