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MS and Dealing with Disappointment

By Matt Cavallo
man-2734073_1920-sq-(1).jpgI guess you could say that being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is one of the most disappointing things that has ever happened to me. I was in my late 20s, newly married and planning for the future when MS struck me out of nowhere. And unless you are lucky and end up with a clinically isolated syndrome, MS doesn’t just strike once. No, having MS means that it will most likely strike you multiple times.
With multiple flare-ups, come multiple disappointments. For me personally, I am disappointed when my body fails me, when my mind goes blank, when I miss out on social events, when I feel like I just can’t perform at work and when I have a general feeling of not being normal any more. These are just some examples of disappointment from my MS journey. I am sure many of you can also relate to the disappointment that MS has moved in and taken over your life, leaving you yearning for what used to be. 
So, what is disappointment? Disappointment is the expectation of an outcome that falls short of what that expectation should be. The greater the disparity between the expectation and the outcome, the greater the disappointment. This can lead to feelings of sadness, depression, anger, hostility, resentment or denial. All of which are secondary emotions to the initial disappointment.

Disappointment can also have negative health effects. People who are disappointed are at greater risk of physical or emotional difficulties, or both. Disappointment could cause a greater frequency of headaches, gastrointestinal difficulties, and difficulties sleeping among other issues. For people living with MS, the physical and emotional side effects of disappointment could further complicate existing health issues or lead to new issues.
While coping with disappointment isn’t easy, here are some tips that can help:
Manage your expectations: You can set yourself up for disappointment by setting expectations in situation where the outcome is unknown or there are variables that are out of your control. MS is an unpredictable disease with many unknowns. By focusing on the things that you can control – such as your diet, treatment plan, and routine – you can feel confident that you are doing the best you can to manage your MS. 

Practice Gratitude: Even when you are not feeling your best and life presents obstacles, there is always something that you can be thankful for. Disappointment does not have a chance of lasting long when you fill your thoughts with gratitude.

Communicate Your Feelings: Keeping your feelings to yourself when you are struggling with your MS can weigh you down and bring more negativity. By learning how to express your feelings and release those negative emotions associated with disappointment, you will feel lighter and not so alone.

While disappointment is inevitable, how you deal with it is a choice. MS has caused me many disappointments since I was diagnosed, but I choose to be grateful for the opportunities that it has given me. I am thankful that I have a platform to share my journey and connect with all of you.