Getting support

A support network is a group of friends, family, and professionals who can provide you with emotional support and practical help (such as meal preparation or rides to medical appointments). Having a strong support network can help you cope with MS, especially if you are newly diagnosed. But how to you build one?

The good news is that you've probably got the beginnings of a support network already. Think of the people you already know that could be part of your support network, including friends, family, and medical professionals. Talk to your family and friends, and let them know that their help is welcome. Sometimes people are afraid to offer help because you seem to be doing fine, or because they don't want to intrude on your life. Letting them know that their help would be appreciated can help break down this barrier. Not everyone will be able to help - try not to take this personally.

You can also go outside of your usual circle of friends and join an MS support group. You may find it helpful to talk to others who share your experience. They may have valuable tips and encouragement to offer.

Once you've identified the people in your support network that can help, think of specific and time-limited things they can do to help you. Try to match the task to the person's schedule and abilities. For example, if you know someone who enjoys cooking, you can ask them if they could bring you a meal every couple of weeks. Don't feel guilty about asking for help. But make sure that what you are asking for is reasonable.

Your friends, family, and support group can provide you with emotional support and practical help. But it's important to know when to call in the professionals. Contact your doctor or MS nurse if you need medical attention, if you have questions related to your condition or treatment, or if you are experiencing new symptoms. If you are having difficulty coping with your emotions and talking with family and friends is not helping, consider asking for professional help. Your doctor or MS nurse can refer you to a professional counsellor.

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