Reading a great article It is normal to grieve after MS diagnosis by Teresa Wright-Johnson1 in Modern Day MS, and seeing that depression was part of her grieving process, reminded me of two things.
First is that grief is ok. Whatever you are grieving about, whether it is the loss of someone close to you, or a pet that was part of your family, or the projected loss of your future through the diagnosis of MS or another chronic illness, it is a natural process. But, although there are several recognised steps said to be involved, the most important thing to remember is that all grief is personal. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do this or that. Everyone grieves in their own way; no need to feel guilty, you do it your way.
Secondly, before moving to Spain last November, I used to belong to the MS Register2 which asks people like me to provide information on life with MS in the UK. Some of the regular questionnaires were about physical aspects such as mobility, balance and so on. But others were about mental states including attitudes and depression. Now, here, I must add that my description of MS Register is an extremely simplified one; there’s much more to it than that. So, if you live in the UK and have MS, I urge you to join. Anyway, my point is that the Register includes questions about your happiness, your ability to laugh and enjoy things as well as depression itself.
In her article, Teresa readily admits that depression was part of her grieving process. She writes:
Depression has become a familiar foe. We travel together more often than I am comfortable admitting. Depression is a bandit and has the capacity to steal hope and joy. Both are needed in order to fight adversity. Reflection became a major component in my life. It felt as though I watched my entire life pass by. I couldn’t stop thinking about who I used to be before my diagnosis and I longed for the loss of the woman I was before multiple sclerosis.
At times, it feels as though my life took a wrong turn down a one-way street with no road leading back to my original, vivacious and authentic self. The longing I felt and still feel at times is overwhelming and often inexplicable. It’s ironic how you can be surrounded by tons of people and still feel alone, fighting a battle only you know exists.
I must have been very lucky as, so far at least, I have not been depressed in the 14 years since my diagnosis with MS. Yes, occasionally I get frustrated that I cannot do something – but not depressed. Whatever is the future is just that, the future. I won’t worry now about something that, hopefully, may never happen.
1 To read Teresa Wright-Johnson’s full article in Modern Day MS, follow this link: http://moderndayms.com/
2 If you have MS, live in the UK and would like to know more about MS Register, follow this link: https://www.ukmsregister.org/Portal/Home