Invisible Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

Unless some MS patients have a big red “MS” on their foreheads, some people would never know that they have a potentially debilitating disease. Many symptoms are invisible but that doesnt mean they are not there and that you are not hurting. This invisibility can chip away at your relationships with friends and romantic entanglements because some people feel that if you dont see a disability, there isnt one to see.

This attitude can weaken your own confidence and be rather discouraging in some of the things you do. In fact, this ignorant attitude of others can make you feel more depressed and angry at your situation instead of trying to be positive.

MS Symptoms That Others May Not See

MS patients, especially if you are newly diagnosed, have symptoms that are not always readily apparent. Unless people are a master at interpreting the eyes (often called windows to the soul) no one will really recognize that you are in the midst of an exacerbating litany of symptoms.

Fatigue, heat sensitivity, weakness and dizziness are common problems associated with multiple sclerosis. Bladder and bowel incontinence issues can be a problem as well as prickling pain, numbness, tingling blurred vision and even cognitive impairment.

You may hear people say, “Oh Im so tired,” but tiredness takes on a whole new meaning with MS sufferers. Many people take for granted the simple putting one foot in front of the other to walk, but MS patients do not. On bad days, the very act of standing up is an accomplishment, much less walking. This can be quite hard to explain to people on the outside of your circle. The extra effort you have to spend to do something that is second nature to others is taken for granted by them.

Memory lapses may be interpreted as indifference by people who do not understand your MS. Most patients have just mild cognitive impairment that can be compensated by a daily planner or PDA with sound alerts. However, that missed lunch with an acquaintance is misinterpreted into the fact that you simply dont care. Invisible MS symptoms can definitely take their toll.

Social Behaviour

You might be guilty of avoiding certain activities such as playing cards at a friends house or going to a restaurant simply because you are afraid to ask for help or draw attention to yourself because you need help navigating the stairs. This type of behavior from yourself just undermines everything you are doing to cope with the disease. If you cannot cope with MS in your own little world, how do you expect others to understand?

The key to indoctrinating outsiders to your MS plight is to be upfront and honest about your disease. If someone sees an apparently healthy you park in handicap parking and then chides you for it, gently and rationally explain in a few sentences what you have and how you must live with it every day. Then, if the person still doesnt understand or care, that is their problem, not yours. It may take some practice to become indifferent to those ignorant attitudes, but you will eventually get the hang of it.

Sometimes, talking with your doctor can help you deal with the attitudes you may run across because of your invisible symptoms of MS. Seek out MS support groups as they have experienced everything you have. By consulting with others, you can get the tools necessary to cope with those outsiders who simply dont understand your invisible symptoms of MS.