How speaking up can help

It's not always easy to talk to your friends and family about multiple sclerosis (MS), but speaking up has its benefits, including the following:

It can help friends and family understand what's been going on. If your MS symptoms have been affecting your social or family life, those around you may be wondering what's up. They may even think they've done something to cause the changes. By telling them that you have MS, and explaining how the condition affects you, you're helping them understand what has been happening.

It can help you share the load. Sharing your condition with friends and family will also make it easier for you to ask for practical and emotional support to lighten your load. For example, you could ask your spouse or kids to pitch in with household chores. You may also want to talk to a sympathetic friend.

It can help get your family involved in making decisions. MS is something you'll need to face as a family, and the first step is telling your family members about your condition so you can make plans and decisions together. For information on how to tell your kids, see "Talking to your child about MS."

It can help your relationships with friends and family evolve. While you're still the same person you were before your diagnosis, you'll have new challenges to face, and telling friends and family can help you face them together. Your relationships will grow and develop as you move forward.

It can relieve the stress of hiding your condition. People with MS sometimes keep their condition from their friends or family for many reasons: they may be waiting for the right time, they may want to protect them from worrying, or they just don't feel ready. While telling can be stressful, so can concealing your condition. Telling your friends and family will help relieve this strain.

For more information to help you talk to your family and friends, see "Deciding who and when to tell about your MS" and "What do I say, and how do I say it?"

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