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Multiple Sclerosis
Awareness Month 2024

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month 2024 - what's the focus this year?

MS Awareness Ribbon on Blue Background

It's here! Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month 2024! Yes, it's that time of year again. When you have MS, it's a part of your life 24/7, however, when you don't, well there's a month, a week, or a day to bring awareness to everyone else.

This year, among other things, the focus is on mental health. Yes, mental health. A worthwhile thing to focus on because of the nature of MS. It is a mentally draining disease. 

The roller coaster ride that is multiple sclerosis can cause anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, a sense of helplessness, and even dementia. If you don't get a handle on these feelings early on, it can be difficult to work through them later on. 

MyMSAA MS Awareness Agenda

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is supporting the effort this year with several free online activities, including podcasts and a webinar. There are four focus points:

  • Week One: Mental Health and MS
  • Week Two: The Power of Positive Thinking
  • Week Three: Social Interactions and Connections
  • Week Four: Elevating Your Well-Being

You can listen to Week One: Mental Health and MS here - "Finding Joy in the Process: Managing Mental Health in the MS Journey". There's also a transcript you can read. Yahaira Rivera interviews Dr. Amy Sullivan, a behavioral medicine specialist and an Associate Professor of Medicine. She's also the Director of Behavioral Medicine & Research at the Mellen Center for MS.

She talks about the different types of mental health challenges a person with MS could have as well as strategies for coping with them. 

The second podcast: The Power of Positive Thinking, Dr Sullivan talks about using positive thinking as a coping mechanism while living with MS. You can also listen to it here - Week Two

Weeks 3 and 4 Activities

Week Three: Social Interactions and Connections, is the third and final episode in the series and is scheduled for the coming week if you are visiting this page on the date of this post - March 17, 2024. Dr. Sullivan will talk about the effect of MS on relationships, your social life, and your life in general. 

Social connections can be beneficial in a way that helps MSers not become isolated. These connections can also help with other mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. Having family and friends you can talk to when things are tough is a good thing for people living with multiple sclerosis.

The last week of March there is a webinar scheduled for Monday, March 25th, from 8-9p Eastern time. The webinar - Elevating Your Well-Being: A Conversation about Multiple Sclerosis and Mental Health will feature Barry A. Hendin, MD and Holly Hendin, MD. a father and daughter who are both medical professionals. He is a neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis and she is a board certified outpatient psychiatrist.

"Join us in a conversation to share... perspectives about the physical and mental manifestations of MS, comprehensive MS care, the importance of social life and supportive connections in the MS journey, along with tips to elevate one’s quality of life."

Mental Health Counseling

Mental health has been in the forefront over the past several years. For so long we've only focused on the physical components of our health. Doctors felt if they could fix the body or alleviate the physical symptoms, then everything would be alright. 

Unfortunately, illness also has a mental component, that is all too often overlooked. With multiple sclerosis, I think mental health issues are compounded because of the unpredictability of the disease.

  • Not knowing what's going to happen from day to day
  • Symptoms that come and go with no rhyme or reason
  • A prognosis that doesn't follow the same path for those diagnosed
  • Invisible symptoms that only the person feels and others don't see

Cir's doctor has always tried to address any and all areas of MS that Cir might be going through, including his mental health. He has been taking a mild anti-depressant for quite awhile. And he has also been to a psychiatrist at different times in his life which has been very helpful. 

Hopefully all doctors with MS patients will be just as vigilant in their treatment efforts. It's so necessary when it comes to living with multiple sclerosis.

MS Awareness Ribbon with Person

We are happy that Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month 2024 is focusing on the mental health aspect of MS. Awareness of the disease is mostly focused on the physical symptoms of multiple sclerosis, like weakness, inability to walk, optic neuritis, demyelination, and more. Hopefully this year will bring the mental part of the disease to the forefront for both doctors and their patients.

I love the poems that our visitors share with us here at Life in Spite of MS. You can find them here. They address all the different aspects of multiple sclerosis - the good (not really sure what that is), the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. If anything, you should get a good laugh out of some of them.

If you've written any poems or essays about living with MS, we'd love it if you'd share them with us. We have compiled them into anthologies that you can also purchase and read on your Kindle if that would be easier.

Awareness is a Must

MS Awareness Stand and Conquer

Awareness of all the different disease and conditions, from diabetes to MS. When more people are aware of the challenges people live everyday, then more can be done to support them. Even though MS has been around for years, there is still a lot to be learned. Studies, trials, and new treatments are being developed everyday. 

Hopefully soon, a cure or treatment that can reverse some or all of the symptoms will be developed making it better mentally and physically for MSers.

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Cir & Akrista

You are reading original content written by Akrista or Cir L'Bert of Life in Spite of MS. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please consider following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you there!

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