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MS: Just Diagnosed? Here’s What To Do

By Daryl H. Bryant (575 words)
Posted in Living with MS on June 29, 2016

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MS: Just Diagnosed? Here’s What To Do

So you’ve just been diagnosed with MS? You’re probably swimming in a sea of misinformation and confusion at the moment, wondering what your next steps should be. I've compiled this list of 4 things to do when you’ve just been diagnosed with MS to help you navigate your first steps.

1. Get Informed

There’s a lot of false information about MS out there, and you need to know the facts. I’ve written about the myths of MS before, but there is a lot more to learn. You found this article, so it’s obvious you are already searching.

Keep looking and expanding your knowledge about MS. The most important thing to remember is that MS affects every single person differently. Don’t be discouraged by extreme cases; your disease is unique to you, and there are plenty of treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help you deal with your symptoms.

2. Join the Community

Right now, you need as much support as you can get. Adjusting to life with an MS diagnosis takes time and help. Thankfully, there is a supportive MS community just waiting to help you make this transition.

They will be able to offer a listening ear when you need to vent, comfort when you need to grieve, and friendship when you need support. Most importantly, because they’ve been there too, they won’t judge your or think that a bad day defines the rest of your life. Learn more about joining the community here.

3. Decide Who to Tell

When it comes to telling people about your diagnosis, the decision is personal. It can be extremely beneficial to have a support network of family and friends to rally around you on your bad days, but don’t feel like you have to tell everyone all at once. Prepare yourself, and take your time.

You may decide to blog about it the first day you’re diagnosed, or you may decide to tell people on a need-to-know basis. It’s your choice who you tell. If you are thinking about telling friends and family, this list of uncomfortable responses to your diagnosis (and how to gracefully handle them) may be helpful.

4. Start Your Employment Plan

If you are a fairly open person, it may seem natural to tell your employer and co-workers about your diagnosis, but don’t do it without carefully weighing the pros and cons. Although your rights are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is possible that you could experience discrimination in the workplace after you disclose your MS - which can be difficult to prove.

For instance, you may be passed over for a promotion, but if you can’t prove it was because of your diagnosis, you can’t fight it. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a great resource section with information about deciding whether or not to disclose your diagnosis to your employer and how to navigate other MS-related employment issues.

Check it out and develop your own employment plan for how your MS diagnosis will play out in the workplace.

Don’t despair just because you’ve been diagnosed with MS. You can still live a full and happy life. Take some time now to process your emotions, learn all you can, make plans, and develop a strong support network. Building a strong foundation now will make your MS diagnosis much easier to deal with over time.

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