Important relationships take effort and energy — even without the added challenges of MS. While MS does pose some additional challenges, it can also enrich relationships and bring people closer together. The first step in figuring out how to deal with MS in your personal interactions is to recognize that the disease affects all of you — whether you have the disease or care about someone who does. The next step is to decide whom you want to tell about the MS and what you want them to understand about it. And the third step is to look for ways to make room for MS in your personal and professional relationships without giving it more time, attention, and energy than it really needs.
Deciding to disclose…or not
Telling others about your MS may be the first thing you want to do — or the last. No two people feel exactly the same about disclosing their MS to others. Keeping in mind that once the information is out there, you can’t take it back, the key is figuring out when disclosure is in your best interest and when it is not.
Keeping balance in one-on-one relationships
When one person in a couple is affected by MS, the other person lives with it as well. To keep your relationship healthy and balanced, it’s important to make sure that both of you stay on the giving and receiving end of the relationship, in spite of whatever changes MS may bring. Learn how to manage MS as team and enhance your communication and intimacy.
Taking care of yourself while caring for someone else
Caring for someone with a chronic illness like MS can be deeply satisfying. Spouses and partners, family, and friends can be drawn more closely together by their shared concerns and collaborative efforts. But caregiving (.pdf) can also be physically and emotionally exhausting, particularly for the primary caregiver. While this is most often a partner or spouse, the primary caregiver may also be an adult child, parent, or friend. Whoever you are, remember that paying attention to your own health and well-being is essential to being able to care for someone else.