“For me, three aspects in particular about having MS have impacted on my life. These are chronic tiredness, losing my autonomy (e.g. having to ask people to help me to go down stairs without a railing) and learning to do everything more slowly.”However, by far the biggest impact has been on my work. As a lecturer, I have found that my physical endurance is drastically reduced, so my productivity is lower. Since I now speak more softly and more slowly, I have to consciously try to speak more loudly, which results in hoarseness after every lecture.

“I’ve also found that my day has shortened – no more working till 10pm at night and still being able to read or do my hobby before going to bed. Previously my day would start at 6am and only end at 1am. Now I wake up at 6.30 and can only keep going till 9.30 at the latest.”

Here Lené shares a few top tips on:

Planning life with MS

– Self-care activities (e.g. showering, getting dressed and applying makeup) take up a lot of energy, so it’s essential to manage your time properly to ensure you are not late for events such as work or a meeting.

– Focus on getting enough rest during the day. While this isn’t always practically possible, go to bed earlier and make sure you get at least eight hours sleep at night.

– If you were previously a very active person, living a full life, accept the situation and be patient with yourself. Make peace with the fact that you can no longer do as much as before and that every activity will definitely take longer.

– Don’t allow the insensitive actions of others to upset you (e.g. someone making a restaurant booking at a venue that has stairs without any railing). If necessary, consult a psychologist or professional counsellor and also address the issue with the relevant person.

– If you’re a very private person, don’t be afraid to vent your feelings regarding your condition, as it’s very therapeutic. Build up a support network of people you can trust and know that they’ll keep any information you share with them confidential.

Coping with depression/anxiety or loneliness

– Meditation and breathing exercises are invaluable to alleviate anxiety or depression.

– Take up a hobby you enjoy (I love needlework and crocheting), as this will help to reduce feelings of worthlessness.

– Books, TV and the radio can curb loneliness and be wonderful company!

– Don’t isolate yourself – compile a weekly social programme and make sure to include some time at least twice a week to go and visit a friend or invite someone over for tea or a meal.

– Moderate exercise such as walking or gardening can be very beneficial, so make provision for exercise in your weekly schedule.

For more information about MS and MS Australia, contact MS Connect™ 1800 042 138 or email them on msconnect@msaustralia.org.au.

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