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Living with MS: Keep Your Self-Image Well-Polished

People with more advanced multiple sclerosis (MS) may begin to question their value to themselves and others. They may start to lose sight of who they are and what they have to offer as the disease takes its toll in so many different ways.

You’re made up of many parts — you have qualities, interests, abilities, and quirks that you’ve acquired over a lifetime. Even though MS may have affected significant areas of your life, chances are high that those unique parts of you are still there. Your challenge, then, lies in figuring out new ways to engage those special parts of you.

If you’re having trouble getting started, have a heart-to-heart with your closest family members, friends, and colleagues. They’ll be happy to remind you what they love about you, what qualities and talents you share with them every day, and how you can still provide them with help and support in their daily lives. And if you need some suggestions about how to get these conversations started, consider doing a little prep work with a therapist or counselor.

How much of you is your MS? If you want to know how much space MS takes up in your life, here’s an exercise to try: Draw a large circle that represents you and your life. Now shade in the area of the circle that is your MS.

Is it just a tiny wedge of your pie or is it a giant-sized portion? Is it a bigger part of you and your life than you want it to be? Can you think of any ways to turn it into a more manageable piece? Do you think it’s the disease itself or your feelings and attitudes about it that are taking up so much space?

If you’re having difficulty answering these questions, you may want to consider talking them over with family members, other people with MS, or a mental health counselor. These folks may be able to help you get back in touch with those non-MS parts of yourself.

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