Chapter 1

Getting to know
my emotions

You are not alone

If experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions sounds familiar, you are not alone. In a recent study, 200 people with MS in the UK and Ireland were asked to select the emotions they experienced and how strongly they felt them. They were then asked to map the emotions to different times during their life with MS. While not everyone experienced the same emotions, it was clear that living with MS can be a bumpy ride. With time, some people found their emotions settled down.

Biogen Data on File – NPS001

Emotions are inevitable...

None of us can avoid responding emotionally to what is happening in our lives. Your feelings about MS are not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ and they may even be helpful in some ways. They are not something to be avoided or got rid of, but your response to them can limit you. What’s important is to understand your emotions, and find ways to live with them, so that they don’t limit the way you live your life.

…so try not to struggle with them

Struggling with your emotions can stop you from focusing on what really matters. Try to let them be part of your life. By making room for your emotions instead of struggling with them, you can spend your time and energy on the things that matter to you.

Think about making room as ‘I am feeling anxious and I’m going to visit my friend’ rather than ‘I would go and visit my friend but I’m feeling anxious’.

Think of it like this; your thoughts and feelings are a rope pulling you in one direction, stopping you from going in the direction you want to go. Struggling with this rope not only diverts your attention from what is important to you, it can be exhausting to maintain the strain of holding the rope. This strain could further impact your ability to focus on what’s important. You can either continue the struggle to hold the rope or let it go. The emotions will still be there but you’re just not fighting against them.

Exercise: Tuning into my thoughts and feelings

Emotions can be triggered by what’s going on around us, but they can also be triggered by our thoughts. While it’s our basic human instinct to think, getting caught up in these thoughts isn’t always helpful. Therefore, it’s useful to recognise what these thoughts are and how they make you feel.

Let’s begin

Well done on completing your first exercise. In the next chapter, you will find some simple exercises to help you to make room for your emotions.

How are you doing?

Take a moment to think about whether now is the right time for you to start the next chapter. If you would rather come back later today or another day, that’s completely fine. Why not set a reminder on your phone?