My previous post provoked an interesting discussion.
Is the mind, and how it reacts, our most powerful and potentially damaging MS symptom?
Thinking about Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’, perhaps it is. Suffering the most appalling, inhumane abuse in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl chronicled his experiences which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and so a reason to continue living.
He noted that fellow prisoners who concentrated on what they had lost fared the worst; the ones who concentrated on the here and now, despite the horrors of their daily existence, survived. Even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning.
I am using an extreme example here for a reason. Our ‘suffering’ is relative to our life situation. MS is for most of us disruptive, unplanned and unwelcome. It can be a vortex of fear and misery. Our minds gallop away with us, far beyond the actual physical symptoms we may be experiencing.
Hence my blind panic when a new symptom reared it’s head last week. Rather than placing it in context, my mind immediately concentrated on loss. On suffering. On the ‘what if’ scenario. I made myself miserable. My mind’s interpretation of this symptom was far more damaging than the symptom itself.
Perhaps, rather than concentrating on each new or return of old symptoms (and the fear that accompanies them), we should be aware that by harnessing our minds, our vortex of emotions, we can gather ourselves in and experience them for what they are.
I have a lot of physical symptoms. And by focusing on them alone, I have ignored how I have reacted to them. No one talks about the MS Mind as a symptom, apart from informing us that MS can cause depression. It is a subsidiary to MS. Yet, if we can strengthen our mind impulses and our tendency to imagine the worst case scenario, could we live more peaceably with MS?
We cannot change the cards life has dealt us. But one thing I am learning is that I can change my perspective. Strengthen the mind and we can cope with anything.