Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Multiple Sclerosis Version

When did I become so angry? Where is this rage comming from? Who did I become? These are few of the questions I ask myself when anger gets the best of me. It hurts. It hurts the people around me, the people I care and most of all it hurts me. I get to be the victim. My own victim. Or MS’s? Read on…

Being diagnosed with MS and having to live with fear of, well… just about everything that could cause a relapse or a worsening of symptoms, isn’t an easy flower do deal with. It has ups and downs, moments of sheer fright and despair, and then it all gets back to normal. Or your new normal, given the case. Top that with the general indifference people have, and you are left with a ticking bomb ready to burst at the smallest innapropriate gesture or word.

Nowadays, we all get frustrated with everyday life. MS makes things more… interesting, to say the least. One minute you’re OK, the next you shout at your colleague and the next you cry uncontrollably.One day I’m my own self, laughing, being upbeat and feeling good, and the next I can shift my mood and act grumpy, irritated. Everything seems to annoy me. I transform from the respectable Dr. Jekyll into the ferocious and sneaky Mr. Hyde.

I noticed that I am more prone to anger when I am tired. When fatigue kicks in, my patience and kindness dissaper alltogether and I honestly feel like biting people’s heads off. I become unreasonable and a true cinic. After I calm down I honestly don’t like myself very much. I feel sorry and sometimes ashamed of my reaction. All the anger I supress at a given time, gets out in spectacular agressive and hysterical outbursts. And then I calm down. Or cry and then calm down. Let’s not be picky here!

How I met Mr. Hyde
The first time it happened was after the two months following my optic neuritis and corticosteroid treatment. Corticosteroids are known to affect underlying anxiety that you may have. And they did: count in the full blow of being given a MS diagnosis, count in not knowing much of this disease and you have my first anxiety outbreak with lots of rage sprinkled on top. And with lots of cheers from my public, of course.

The second one came after many people kept telling me that I am way to agressive since my diagnosis, and that I need to calm down. I got mad at them for saying those things, and I thought I would get better. I was wrong. Enter the second anxiety attack: I was feeling guilty of how I was making others feel. I thought I was not being worthy of their understanding That left me feeling even more angry about my diagnosis, and why was this necessary, why did it have to happen to me? The public was in awe.

The third was before my lumbar puncture, when I nearly had a panic attack. Although I read all the information I could get my hands on, although I received many encouragements from my family and the guys from my online community… I pannicked. But that got out of the way fast. My lumbar puncture went out without any nightmares and it was all OK in the end. The public is exthatic.

The fourth time was after a full morning of pins and needles in the eye I had the optic neuritis. I took all the antinflamatory stuff that usually make me better: vitamin D3 supplements, turmeric tea with honey. I ate some fish and it gradually dissapeared. But my anxiety didn’t, and guess what? I had a full outburst, tears, anger and all the scary stuff. The public is fascinated!

After all that, having a conversation with my boyfriend made me remember how strong I really am. MS is just the cheating, backstabbing entity that it is, and you have to ignore it most of the time. Many months ago, when I got my diagnosis, I promised myself that it will not get the best of me.

How to help Dr. Jekyll
When you’re fighting a lifelong battle with MS, there might be some casualties along the way. The trick is to minimise their number and preferably to avoid hurting your family and friends. You need to learn how to cope with these emotions. You need to train and discipline your Hyde-reactions. Channel all that energy into constructive activities, that will benefit you on the long term.

For example, your release valve could be one of the following:

  • yoga and meditation;
  • horseriding;
  • dancing;
  • gardening
  • writing (my personal favourite!)

Each person is different. MS is different to each of us. We each have our own Mr. Hyde. Study it, learn its triggers and quirks and adopt the strategy you find to be more effective.

Then get in front of the mirror and say the following:

“Here I am, Mr. Hyde! Game on! Yours trully, Dr. Jekyll.”
(Don’t worry, he will not answer back. He is a coward. Be stong!)

Alexandra Celic

P.S. Question: How do you cope with anger and mood swings in your daily life? Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter or in a comment down below.

Thanks cdiz for the image used in this article!