I Just Need to Vent

I know that I’ve said in the past, that I don’t want anyone’s pity. By saying that, it also doesn’t mean that that I don’t ever need to vent. Again, I still do NOT want your pity, just someone to listen to me, to understand and just offer some comfort at times. This all came about because recently I had my routine MRI done and it came back that I had a new/active lesion. Now, I haven’t had a new/active lesion in over two years, so I really wasn’t prepared for the news that came.

Emotional overload

I can tell you that I was angry and upset, and I couldn’t tell you which emotion I was feeling more than the other, because it was just a bit chaotic, in my head. I go to see my neurologist soon, so I’m looking forward to discussing everything that is going on, and make a game plan, if we need to change anything.

There is a difference between pity and support

So back to the subject at hand… I feel that with in the past, I’ve told friends and family, that I don’t want their pity; I was being 100% honest. However, there is a different between someone showing me pity and someone just being supportive. Those times that I need to vent, please feel free to give me your opinion on the subject, maybe show me a different perspective, but PLEASE I’M BEGGING YOU, don’t try and TELL me to do something. Why? Because I’m hard headed, for one. Another reason, because it always has something to do with diet/exercise/supplement/vitamin, etc.

Don’t keep things bottled up

I’m not trying to be rude by what I just stated, I’m just trying to be honest. Because, if I’m needing to vent, that means that something is upsetting me, so my emotions are off balance and there is no telling how I will ‘take’ someone ‘telling’ me to do something. I honestly think that once a week (minimum) that my best friend and I vent to each other. Mind you she has MS also, so it’s not your ‘regular relationship’, etc. However, we have found it beneficial to vent, when needed, instead of bottling it all up. I’ve bottled it all up before, and all my emotions exploded at once and I said things that I didn’t mean, and I took it out on those closest to me and that wasn’t fair at all.

Let me just share this little bit of info with you… I didn’t just ‘decide’ to start ‘blogging’ out of nowhere. I was writing down my thoughts and feelings, just to get the information off my shoulders and just put it out there, in some form. I had started blogging, because I found that I could post from anywhere… computer/phone, etc. So that I always had access to it, and so that it could also form a timeline of how I was doing/feeling.

I ended up chatting online with a support group, in a chat room, and we were giving out tips, so I shared mine. Some of my close friends were in the chat room, and asked to read what I was writing, and the rest is history.

So thank you, for everyone who reads all my vents/articles

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

Isolation & MS

I know that I have probably touched base on this in the past, as many others most likely have… but I wanted to bring up the issue of Isolation & MS. I feel that this should be categorized as a ‘symptom’ of MS, because it can be very common after being diagnosed with MS.

When I was first diagnosed and learned about the disease, I started to feel isolated… not that I was in reality, but I had some people here and there just distancing themselves from me. So I then started to push people away, because it’s always easier to leave than be left, for me at least.

But my thing is, when I was reading over all the material…. What to expect, what symptoms came with an MS diagnosis, it didn’t prepare me for the isolation I felt, which worsened by depression.

A 12-Step Program for being diagnosed

I almost feel like there is a ’12 step program’ of being diagnosed, in a way. I dealt with steps of denial, anger, depression, acceptance, etc. Except for the fact that we have no control over the whole relapse issue. Well we do in a way, but not COMPLETE control. It should also be known that isolation can come and go… just like MS Symptoms.

One of the big differences in isolation compared to other MS symptoms is that there is no possible treatment for it, at least, not directly. It’s not something that people like to bring up, think about, or even speak to their doctor about… I didn’t speak to my doctor about it at first because I didn’t feel that it was something that was ‘important’ in regards to my illness and managing it. I was wrong.

Easier said than done

Some people would say, well if you’re isolated, talk more… or socialize more… Now let me just say that it’s easier said than done. I may want to talk more and socialize more, but I won’t. Like when I was first diagnosed, I knew that I needed to socialize and really try and bring myself out of the isolation, but I was scared. I didn’t know whom I could socialize with, with the topics that I wanted to discuss.

Isolation is unpredictable

Isolation isn’t something that can be fixed and then never return. It’s just like MS… there is no predicting it. It is present throughout different times/stages of your illness, not just when you’re first diagnosed. For instance, when I’ve relapsed… I’ve gone back to isolation. Yes, I purposefully isolated myself. Some people have asked me why, and it’s because for me, at the time, it was safer. I was safer to isolate myself than to be judged, looked at differently, or just have people talk about me behind my back.

I saw this quote a long time ago, and I wanted to share, because it’s a bit fitting for how I have felt at different stages in life since my diagnosis. It reads

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” ~Socrates

So if you are feeling isolated, just know that you aren’t alone. Do we cause the isolation on our at times, yes, but that’s most likely because we’ve been burned before, and want to prevent it from happening again. Or maybe were making ourselves isolated due to depression, anxiety, stress… there are many reasons on why I have isolated myself in the past, and I’m sure there are other reasons for anyone else who has done it before.

I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing to kind of go on a ‘mental vacation’ for a night, etc. but be careful on how far you isolate yourself and for how long… because you don’t want to push people away that really truly care about you.

Until next time…

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

My Emotions Are Broken?

Okay, so my emotions aren’t actually ‘broken’, but I feel that they don’t work… normally, if that makes sense. I have taken some time to really think about this, and look back at my reaction to certain things/situations. And I just feel that sometimes, I don’t respond with the right ‘emotion’ at the right time.

The “wrong” emotional reaction

For instance, if someone is mad at me… I don’t react the way I would have say … 10 years ago. I just seem to have no emotional response to the situation. And that can be a problem, cause then people think I don’t care about what they’re voicing to me, but that’s not it at all. There are times, that I feel the ‘right’ emotion, but I don’t show the emotion. It’s like my brain can’t compute how I’m feeling to really show through my actions/words.

I don’t know if this is just me, but it’s something that I wanted to bring up for a while now. And no, I’m not trying to ‘blame’ this on my MS… cause for the longest time I felt like something was just wrong with me… until I discussed with my doctor. He stated that MS could affect emotional behavior.

Now, let me just point out that my emotions aren’t always broken… but just at certain times it seems. And it’s not something that I can predict when it will happen. I’ve never been a very ‘emotional’ person to begin with, by the way. I had the mentality that crying was a show of weakness growing up, so I didn’t do it. But I then learned that it’s okay to be emotional, and it doesn’t make you weak.

My emotional response isn’t predictable

It’s just so weird… I will get in an argument with my husband (because no relationship is perfect) and there are times that I will show emotion during the argument and we hash it out, etc. But then there are the times that we argue, and I sit there, listening to what he is saying and it appears as if I’m ‘bored’, or not paying attention. And I can’t seem to get a hold of it to not make it seem that way. I have been able to repeat everything back to him that he said, and do it with no emotion, almost like I’m reading it off a script.

I guess I just come off with an attitude most the time of “I don’t care” when that’s not always the truth… I just get so frustrated with how my mind won’t let me compute my emotions then I get angry at myself, not the person or situation. It’s almost like being locked up and being held prisoner inside your own head. Same thing applies with the whole “broken brain filter” or “cog-fog” issue.

If you really think about it, MS is inside our nervous system, so we’re being held back from doing certain things, accomplishing certain tasks, etc. But no one is physically holding us back, or keeping us locked down. It’s our heads, nervous system, whatever you want to refer to it as.

There was this video that I saw a while ago that was made for MS Awareness, that I felt really fit what I’m talking about right now. I have included it below… Now, let me just say that the video is kind of scary for some, and doesn’t really sit well with some… but it’s just want I’m trying to communicate in regards to my thoughts, emotions, etc. literally being stuck and not able to communicate them properly.

“Trapped”

So, while I was looking for the video I posted above, I came across a series from MS Society of Australia called “Seeing MS”. This specific video is called “Seeing MS – EXPOSING THE INVISIBLE DISEASE”.

I’m definitely going to look into the whole series, but I always like sharing things I find online, and sharing them with my family and friends, and all of you.

That’s all for now. I hope everyone is having a wonderful New Year thus far.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally published on MultipleSclerosis.net** 

My Definition of ‘I’m Fine’

I'm fine. Save me.

I know that most of you have said “I’m fine” in the past, when you really weren’t… you hear other MS’ers saying it, when you know they aren’t… It’s just something that I frequently say… and I’m going to try and ‘define’ on what it means when I say, “I’m fine”, when I’m really not.

Well for one, when I hear the statement, “I’m Fine”, it makes me think of this image I saw that I want to get in a tattoo… It shows the “I’m Fine” writing, and then you flip it over… and it reads “Save Me”.

What do I really mean when I say “I’m fine”?

So what do I mean, and maybe others with MS too… what does it mean when we say “I’m Fine”? Well for me, it just seems like it’s easier to say I’m fine, rather than explain everything that is wrong. Now that is not be being overly negative or exaggerating… because let me tell you, if I described to someone everything that was wrong, when it was happening, I would never stop talking. And I already talk a lot as it is (See I got jokes).

It's hurts, but it's okay.. I'm used to it.

So why don’t we explain how we’re really feeling, when someone genuinely wants to know? Please don’t feel like I’m brushing you off by answering I’m fine, for starters. But to try and explain it… I already feeleverything I’m going through because of my MS, I don’t want to have to describe it all the time. I explained this to one of my friends recently… and she sent this to me…

She basically stated that, this is what she feels it is like for me… just by seeing what I’ve gone through over the years. I can’t remember the last day where I went the WHOLE day without feeling any pain, or dealing with ANY symptoms. The only reprieve I get from the symptoms unfortunately is by medication to help treat my symptoms. But who wants to take medicine all the time? Not me… unlike what SOME people like to assume… that I am a pill popper. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

So easily put, I answer with “I’m Fine” just so I don’t have to describe and listen to myself list off everything that is wrong. I don’t like to dwell on the things I cannot change, and I don’t like to be a downer, if you couldn’t tell from my heavily sarcastic posts in the past. But I do have my moments where I’m being blunt and honest, and I’m not looking for attention, or pity, I’m just explaining the facts.

Sometimes it’s just easier

Sometimes it’s easier to say I’m Fine, rather than explain what’s wrong… then have to explain in depth about each certain thing, because the person isn’t familiar with MS, the symptoms, etc. It’s tiring, and I’m already battling fatigue as it is.

So for the honest truth, that I myself don’t like to admit a whole lot… is that I say “I’m Fine” because it can be extremely depressing for me to sit there and think about everything that is wrong… I don’t want to think about it. Kind of like out of sight out of mind.. This is my ‘normal’ now… This is my everyday. You just grow accustomed to the things you cannot change and grow from it and move on and do the best you are able to do.

Did I even make any sense just now? Or am I just rambling? Oh well, you probably get what I mean.

Xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net** 

What Were We Talking About?

Have you ever heard of people ‘zoning out’ or doing it yourself? I’ve done it a lot, particularly when I’m not interested in what’s being said. However, ever since my diagnosis, it seems to happen much more frequently than before; and I’m not even zoning out on purpose!

I get so frustrated with myself, because I’ll ask a question, or be talking about something with a friend or co-worker, then my mind just draws a blank. It’s like I see the words you are speaking, I can hear the noise you’re making, but my brain is not computing what your words are saying/meaning and computing in my brain.

Feeling guilty

I feel so bad, when I am having a conversation, and I have to ask people to repeat themselves. This can also be because I’ve lost some hearing, but it’s also because my brain is blocking the information to compute in my brain.

I know that some people have been put off when this has happened with me. Then I feel bad… and try and explain… but it’s hard to explain, unless you actually KNOW what I’m going through.

This can also happen when I’m thinking about something… working on something… etc. I can read an article online, word for word, and I will have absolutely NO idea what I just read. This tends to happen more frequently if I’m tired, it’s at the end of the day, etc.

Forgetting things almost instantly

There are also times that I will be engaged in a conversation, listening and responding… 10 minutes later, I sometimes completely forgot what we talked about. My husband has noticed this because we will talk about something, then like an hour later, I’ll bring it up to him… and he just looks at me weird, then informs me that we just talked about all this not even an hour ago.

I think he finally understands that it’s not on purpose. I think this issue can really be classified as memory issues and cognitive function… sort of a mixture. Let me tell you, where I work full-time, I have to remember mileage on an odometer of a vehicle at times. For example… I went out to a vehicle, checked the odometer and by the time I got inside to my computer I completely forgot the numbers. Mind you, I repeated them in my head the entire walk back to my desk. So I had to go back and do it again… and it happened again! So I ended up taking a picture of the odometer on my third trip, with my phone, so that I could have it plain as day in front of me.

So let me just issue a BIG apology to anyone that I’ve spoken to in the past, that I’ve had multiple conversations with about the SAME EXACT THING… I know I’m a broken record at times, but you will have to excuse my brain, it likes to go on vacations with out me, it appears.

I can tell that me asking people to repeat themselves, sometimes more than once… or bringing up things to them.. more than once, it can be exasperating to some… trust me, it’s exasperating for me as well, once I realize that we’re having a repeat conversation… I’m also embarrassed about it at times, to be honest.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

 

Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net