Actions vs. Words

I’ve always been that person that believes that actions speak louder than words. I’m not sure if that’s how everyone feels, but it’s just a personal attribute I guess. I wanted to share just some experiences I’ve had in the past, both good and bad, just to get it out there and get it off my chest.

Relationships change with MS

I’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since August 2010; I was 22 at the time. I had so many friends and a huge social circle that has since dwindled down to a select few. I have no hard feelings against the friends I had that are no longer, I did at one point, but I’ve dealt with it emotionally and moved on. Now, there have been a few friends that drifted away after I was diagnosed, that tend to pop back up here and there, when they see I’m having a hard time on social media, or otherwise. So, these people reach out to me and say things like, “Oh, I miss you! We need to hang out the next time I’m in town.” Or they even state a certain date, etc. You get my drift, right?

We all know that memory can be an issue with those that have MS, and it affects me. But when I have something to look forward to, like getting out of my daily routine and catching up with someone, just having some ‘me’ time… (Moms, you know what I’m talking about. You need that time for yourself.) So needless to say, this is something that I would look forward to when someone come to me and suggests that we hang out on a date/time. Then, come to find out, they dodge my attempt to confirm that we have plans, but don’t refrain from posting their activities on social media outlets on what they did instead of keeping the get together we had planned, even if it was a bit far away.

Actions speak louder than words

So what am I getting at here? It’s simply that actions speak louder than words. I’m guessing these certain people feel like if they say nice things to me, they are doing a nice gesture, and they don’t necessarily have to follow thru with it. That’s where you’re wrong. Because for one, I am THAT kind of person that will call you out publicly, if you want to be rude and just ditch me. I mean, I know I’m not as much of a social butterfly as I used to be, but I could have turned down other plans, because YOU had approached me about getting together. Get my drift? Another situation on this topic… is when people see that you are going through a lot, are always busy, etc. So these certain people approach you, without being asked/prompted, and you offer to help out with something at sometime. The end of your offer stating, “Just let me know if there is anything I can do for you or help you out with.” Does that sound familiar?

Grateful for help

Now, when someone offers something like this unprovoked, I’m grateful. I share what was said with my husband, mom, etc. It was a very kind gesture for someone to offer a helping hand. I’m not saying that I will take every one up on their offer, but it’s just nice to have that support. We all know that crazy things can happen, something sudden can come up, and that is relevant to everyone… having MS or not having MS. However, when you have MS… it’s like you have to ‘expect the unexpected’. So all those people that reached out to me offering help, I might need to take you up on that at some point. So when I try to contact you, seeing if you are still able to watch my kids when I get an infusion for 2-4 hours, have to get an MRI, DR appointment, etc. And the response I get is… **crickets**… nothing.

I would rather you answer me and give me a polite brush off rather than ignore me. Especially when social media/technology has this little tool on a lot of it’s messaging apps that will show you if the message is ‘read’ or not. So, basically, I see that you have read my message and **crickets**. This is what I’m talking about when I say ‘actions speak louder than words’. Bottom line is, don’t offer to help someone out, especially if they are dealing with enough as it is, if you are just going to blow them off. I would rather never be offered these ‘kind gestures’ rather than be ignored when I attempt at trying to take you up on your offer.

As usual, I could probably keep going on this subject, but you get my drift for now. I might return to the subject in the future.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

(click on my name above for ways to reach me, etc.)

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

You Don’t Get It… Till You GET It

You know how frustrating it is, when someone comes to you that does not have Multiple Sclerosis, or any other chronic illness, but tries to compare what he or she is going through to what we are going through. It’s annoying, at least for me. I know that I’ve touched base on this a few times in the past with, “You Can’t Compare”. However, I feel this is something that I need to touch base on again.

I’ve heard it all before

I wanted to write this article in more of a ‘scenario’ way, sort of like what someone says to you, and what I’m thinking in my head but try not to say out loud so that I’m not being ‘rude’.

  • “Oh! I get muscle cramps all the time too! They are such a pain.”
    • No, muscle cramps and dealing with spasticity caused by MS is NOT the same thing. There is no comparison. I wish it were just a muscle cramp that I had to deal with.
  • “I can’t sleep either, it’s so annoying. I am running off of so much coffee right now!”
    • Yes, not being able to sleep is very annoying. But the cause for the lack of sleep is most likely very different. I can’t go to sleep because of the pain that I’m in. And there is no way that coffee is going to help me the next day.
  • “Oh girl! I don’t know where my head is at half the time either! I can’t remember a darn thing!”
    • Yes, forgetting things is very annoying. But having to deal with cog-fog aka cognitive impairment is something completely different. This doesn’t just affect our memory, but many other things in our daily lives as well.
  • “Girl! I hate bras too! They are the most annoying things ever!”
    • True statement, they are pretty annoying. But when you wear once, it’s just that… it’s annoying. When I wear once it can bring on the MS Hug along with spasticity, where it feels like my insides are squeezing me in a bear hug.
  • “I don’t have any energy to do anything today either! I just want to be lazy!”
    • Having no energy for just one day out of so many, is not that bad in the grand scheme of things. But everyday having to deal with this chronic fatigue that is trying to keep you down when you don’t want to be ‘lazy’, you want to get out and do things. There is no comparison between being ‘tired’ and having ‘chronic fatigue’.
  • “My legs fall asleep all the time and it’s soo annoying to try and walk after that because your leg feels heavy.”
    • Yes, it is a horrible feeling for your legs to ‘fall asleep’, the numbness & tingling. But for those who do not suffer from a chronic illness like MS, the feeling comes back for most. I haven’t been able to feel the bottom of my feet and tops of my toes for I don’t remember how long. Also, that heavy feeling of the foot, it’s a constant for a lot of people with mobility issues due to MS. Not to mention the random spouts of numbing/tingling that comes on with no warning.
  • “Oh man, I hate it when my vision changes too!”
    • Yes, it is a common thing to happen to many people that are ‘healthy’, however, we usually experience drastic visual changes that can cause double vision, blind spots, dizziness & vertigo. I would love to only deal with ‘normal visual changes’.

Bottom line

These are just some of the recent things that have been said to me, when someone is trying to ‘relate’ to my MS symptoms. But the bottom line is, you don’t get it, till you get it. Meaning, you will not understand exactly what I’m going through unless you, yourself, getting diagnosed with MS as well. Which I’m hoping does not happen to the person making these comments either.

Some people just want to try to relate to us, and I can understand that, thank you. But there are others, those people that try and ‘one-up’ everyone else, that always have to have been there done that as well.

No one wants to deal with these symptoms, but we also don’t want what we’re going through to be categorized as something many others deal with on a daily basis that are ‘healthy’. Because there is no comparison… by making the comments like the ones above, you are making it out to seem like we are overreacting to our illness, when that is not the case. Most of us usually try and ‘hide’ what were going through from others, and just respond with “I’m fine”, when asked how we are doing.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

(click on my name above for ways to reach me, etc.)

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

Disability Discrimination Part 2

Have you ever had someone look at you, and not believe that you have Multiple Sclerosis, or something similar? Have you ever had to show proof that you are, in fact, considered disabled, due to Multiple Sclerosis? I’m not talking about showing proof where it’s required, but just in your local community, with people you are around.

This is something that I have had to deal with in the past. If someone doesn’t know that I have MS, and they are around me in a conversation, and my husband asks me if I’m feeling okay, do I need to rest, etc. They first off think I’m sick… but when they learn I have Multiple Sclerosis, the face they make when they hear that coming from me, can be pretty comical at times. They give me this look of shock, some of the time. Full on jaw dropping sort of shock, where you know they are thinking, there is no way that is true.

Discrimination and Disability

I never thought that after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, that one of the things that I would deal with is being discriminated against due to a disability. I never thought that I would deal with people just trying to sell me bogus ideas, or judge me. There is a long list I’ve made in the past on what NOT to say to someone with Multiple Sclerosis. Click here to read that list.

Anyway, in today’s society you hear about discrimination against race, gender, religion, etc. However, you don’t ever hear the disabled brought up in regards to discrimination. Why is that? Is it because it doesn’t exist? Well for me, unfortunately, it has happened on multiple occasions. Getting told off for using my handicapped-parking placard when it’s 115 outside at the grocery store… Not being able to walk a straight line, due to vision/vertigo and gait issues. Being told I’m just lazy, or I’ve had too much to drink, and that I’m not really disabled really hurts. I didn’t ask for this, it’s already hard as it is, and people just add to it with their judgments.

Not just physical symptoms

For being called ‘retarded’ because my cognitive function is not ‘normal’ and I can’t think of easy things like I used to or I’m not able to understand a simple sentence. When I’m not able to get the words out of my mouth, which I have formed in my brain. Being made fun of for that is just despicable. I don’t have control over how my body is affected and being treated like I’m the cause of the problem, that I did something to be this way, is just very hurtful.

When I was using assistive devices, I felt like I was being discriminated against. I’ve had notes left on my car for parking in the handicapped spot. I never told anyone this, but one time I needed to use a scooter that was provided by the local store and I was asked to leave for abusing the store’s property. That the scooters are not there for joy rides. Now, when I get emotional in any way, my thought process does not want to work correctly either, so I just sit there dumb founded, not able to even come up with a response.

People are quick to judge

I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people are just really judgmental, and are quick to jump to assumptions without even knowing any facts at all. Just because I’m in my late-20’s and “look healthy” doesn’t mean that life is perfect and I don’t have any issues. This sad part is, that the reason people believe that I might be ‘abusing’ a handicapped placard, or an assistive device, is because there are people out there that DO abuse these things. So the people that are actually in need of these things suffer the consequences of people that have poor judgment.

I don’t really know if this could be classified as discrimination or not, but do you understand what I’m talking about? I have to carry my handicapped permit with me when I’m out and about, in case I get confronted assuming I’m abusing the system.

Not only that, but I have to deal with the emotional effects of any sort of confrontation, which in turn causes issues with my MS symptoms. I get fatigued, I get a migraine, and I get weak. Because I used all my energy I saved up to go out in public, and had to use it on defending myself, instead of completing what I set out to do in the first place.

I’ve just realized that I’ve already written about this issue a while back (sorry, memory issues) but I believe that this is something that needs to be brought to the attention of many people. To read my previous article on this topic, click here.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

My Apologies

As I was getting to my computer so I could sit down and write this, before I forgot, I made my first apology. I apologized to the end table that I repeatedly run in to with my toes. Yes, I am now apologizing to it, because I feel that I have caused it a lot of damage for jumping out in front of me all the time.

Now, on a serious note, I wanted to write a big apology, for those I have been abrupt with, rude, snippy, etc. Since I can’t remember things I have said or done to everyone I have come across that meant well, I just wanted to write one big apology and try to explain why I reacted the way I did.

I’m Sorry for…

To the person that saw me struggling, trying to do something over and over again with out being successful. You offered me your assistance, and I replied with an attitude in an angry tone, “No I got this.” I’m sorry. Please know that my response and emotions at that time were not directed at you, but towards my MS. MS has robbed me of many things since being diagnosed, and I continue to fight it, trying to prove it wrong, trying until I can do what I want to do… even if that takes me over an hour to accomplish a pretty simple task, like lacing up a shoe.

To the person that insisted on getting up to get something for me, when you saw me struggling at the end of the day, to get up and get moving after finally sitting down. If I was rude to you after you offered, I’m very sorry. My emotions were not directed towards you. I’m mad at myself, my MS to be specific, for not allowing me to do what I so easily did before. Things people do so easily without a second thought or struggle. My reaction was probably a bit of jealousy also.

To the person that genuinely offered their advice and/or opinion to me, with true care and just wanting to help me out. I’m sorry if I was rude to you in my response or showed that I did not care what you were offering to me. I am very grateful that you care, and my reaction was not meant for you. It just so happened that I had dealt with three other people that same day, but they were trying to sell me a ‘miracle cure’. It’s hard to be told so many things by so many people, that don’t really realize how much they are getting your hopes up with their ‘opinions/advice/products. It’s hard to want to try something new from advice or suggestions that were given, when I have done so in the past, and ended up disappointed with no result.

To the person that told me, “but you look so good” or “you don’t look like you have MS” while being 100% genuine about it, thank you. My sarcastic response was uncalled for and I apologize. Unfortunately there are people out there that gain their self esteem by being rude and/or sarcastic with their comments, and it has caused me to be on guard. This isn’t your fault, and thank you for caring. (For some insight on what people with MS have to hear from people that are not genuine, click here. If you are a loved one and/or caregiver to someone with MS, and are wondering what you SHOULD say, click here.)

Also, I’m sorry to my loved ones.

I’m sorry that you have to live with MS, because of me. I know I didn’t ask for this, but neither did you. They say there are so many people in the world that have been diagnosed with MS, what about a number of how many people have to technically LIVE with MS, by having a family member or frienddiagnosed. I’m sorry to my loved ones, for not being the person I used to be, and I thank you for still sticking around when others left.

Finally, I’m sorry to everyone else that has to live with this ugly disease, or any other chronic illness similar to it. I wish none of us had to deal with the pain and struggle that comes with a chronic illness. I’m sorry that I can’t be there to support each and every one of you, when we all deserve the most support we can get.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis and other illnesses is not easy. It’s a battle that you have to fight each and every day. Because of the constant battle, we are at times frustrated, angry, upset, emotional, etc. I’m not trying to use this an excuse for my behavior, but I am trying to help you better understand our point-of-view.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

Then vs. Now

Ever since I was diagnosed, I went through so many emotions going through different situations. There were situations that I experienced from a completely different perspective. For instance, I remember having a conversation with a friend, and they brought up that they went shopping, during Christmas time. So, instead of parking far away and walking, they used a relative’s Handicap Placard. At that time, I knew it was wrong but I didn’t feel that it was something that I needed to argue or get on to them about it.

If that happened now…

If that were to happen now, I’m almost positive that I would go off about the abuse of it. I’ve been in the situation before that I’ve really needed to use my handicap placard and there were no available spots. As I’m circling around the parking lot trying to find a spot, I see someone skipping (yes, skipping), to one of the cars that is parked in one of the handicapped spots, by themselves. Needless to say, I didn’t keep my mouth shut about the situation. First off, I’m not going to jump the gun, so I asked for the permit form. She laughed, thinking I was joking. This girl is probably about 17 years old. She said that it’s her grandma’s car; I asked if her grandmother was coming out, she laughed and said no. Then got in the car and left. I called the police department and reported it, because I was livid about it.

Social security disability

Another situation I want to talk about is in regards to receiving social security disability. I’ve come across some people that were approved for disability, in a short period of time, that I know personally. I had asked what they did for a living, and they said, “Oh I get disability.” I asked what for, they said for depression. The next statement, “Yeah, I get free money for being “depressed” when I’m actually fine.” They then laughed, at the fact that they got “free money” for a really serious issue.

That person was really an acquaintance, let me just put that out there. It’s not someone that I hung out with on a regular basis, etc. So, after I was diagnosed I had to go through so many different things, which eventually led to me filing for disability. It was a long battle, I was denied multiple times, and ended up having to get a lawyer and go to court about it. I was finally approved, but then found out that I could not receive any money from disability, because I didn’t have enough credits and too many assets.

It’s not funny

I ended up seeing this acquaintance again… we ended up having a conversation about my MS, and what I’ve had go through in order to get disability. This person laughed and said, well that sucks for you. Like it was funny… but I wasn’t laughing. I was very emotional about my struggle and I was vocal about how I felt about the humor they were finding in the situation, when there is nothing funny about it.

It’s crazy to think back about how I used to be, and what kind of person I am today. I get that as we get older, we mature and gain knowledge. I gained knowledge personally, going through my own battle. I know that not everyone learns things the same way, cause we’re all different. But I sit back sometimes and just really think over how much I’ve changed, and I can honestly say that it’s for the better. The journey, of course, has been hard and emotional and every so much more, but I truly believe that I am a better person now, than I was back then.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

I’ve Got a Short Fuse

It’s hard for me to fully remember on how I “used to be” pre-diagnosis, but I don’t believe that I had as ‘short of a fuse’, so to say. This is just something that I’ve been trying to monitor and compare, to see what triggers me, etc. It’s almost like my anxiety and my anger go together at times. I used to be chilled out, not a whole lot bothered me… but back in the day, neither of my kids had the vocabulary that they do today. So who knows? Anyways, back to the point I wanted to make. I feel like I never had to deal with true anxiety issues, until after I was diagnosed.

It’s gotten worse over time

My husband has even pointed out that I used to not freak out over certain things before, that I do now. Maybe I was a bit of a pushover back then? Who knows? But I have been getting to that point where certain things throughout my day will build up and make me almost feel like I’m having a panic attack at times. Or it could lead me to feel very angry/agitated and I can’t get out of that certain mood easily. Let me also state that I am on medication for depression/anxiety, so that helps. But no medicine that I take makes things 100% better. I think a lot of the time I just feel so overwhelmed with everything that I have going on, then I’m asked to do something else on top of it all, and I just reach my exploding point. I feel bad afterwards, but I can’t help how I feel.

Anxiety

Now with the anxiety, it can build up or it can come out of nowhere also. I could be having a really good day, mood wise, then all of a sudden something just takes my anxiety level through the roof and I freak out. Then I get to thinking, “What else is this awful disease going to cause or make me feel? Haven’t I been through enough already?” Well sometimes, apparently not. I’ve had people tell me, “Once you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.” I also have said this in the past, but now I feel like…yeah, it can get worse. It can always get worse. Will it get better with time? Yes. But that doesn’t help me out with the here and now.

I also feel that when I reach my ‘limit’ of bull that I can handle at that time, I shut down. I distance myself; I become quiet… people will ask me what’s wrong. I just don’t have the energy to even tell them. Because I’m trying to calm myself down and have a ‘chill’ moment, without interruptions. Do you know how hard it is to have a ‘chill moment’ without interruptions when you have two young boys? VERY DIFFICULT. I have been trying to do things here and there to help me relax… go get a massage, mani/pedi, etc. Does that help for the time being? Yes, it does… but it’s not a long-term fix. When I reach that moment where my anxiety level is through the roof, it causes me to get snippy with people, which then can cause it’s own issues.

There’s no easy solution

I don’t want to have to take a medication to make me ‘mellow’. I want to be easy-going and less snippy about things, especially when it involves my husband and kids. It’s almost as if I want to be anxiety free, that I need to live in a sound proof bubble, and that’s just not possible. I’ve been trying to find different ways to help me out with this, but at times, like now, I feel like there is no helping the matter. I’m at a loss of what to do, how to handle things, how to move forward, because I’m so emotionally drained from everything that led me to this point. I’m not trying to be depressing about this, or anything like that. I’m just venting out my issue with anxiety and my MS, along with daily life. I know that I usually write about things in a sarcastic way, with a sense of humor. But I just can’t find the humor in this situation at this time.

So for those of you have gone through what I’m going through, or something similar, know that you aren’t alone. Another good read about this issue by Lisa Emrich can be read by clicking here.

Till next time!

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

Common Sense…MIA

You’ve heard the saying before, “I wish common sense was a bit more common.” If you haven’t, where have you been? Just kidding… Anyways, I have used the above statement more times than I count, and I still do till this day. I wished more people would use their ‘common sense’ when it comes to discussing my MS, etc. But that’s not what I want to touch base on right now.

Today, I want to discuss the fact that at times, I seem to lose my own common sense. Yep, total hypocrite right here, but I don’t seem to have my ‘common sense’ at times due to Cog-Fog aka Cognitive Impairment. Let me just give you an example… I was helping make dinner the other night… and I was making scalloped potatoes, out of box (don’t judge me lol). Well I was at a friend’s house that we have dinner with at least once a week. I’m going through the measuring cups… he comes in (my husband’s best friend) and I’m like do you not have a 2/3 measuring cup? He comes over to where I am, and sees that I have the 1/3 measuring cup in my hand. He then says, just fill that up twice. He said this completely straight faced, by the way, so props to him for that. Because I sat there staring at the cup… because how did I not get that? Before he came in, I was about to Google it! So I set the cup down, and just start laughing at myself, because what else could I do?

Is it upsetting that the most common things slip my mind, yes. But I’ve gotten to the point that I try to laugh it off, instead of getting upset about it. Now, most the people I hang around on a regular basis knows about my MS and the struggles I face. So I don’t have to deal with many snarky comments, as much as I used to. I even deal with this issue when I’m sitting down helping my kids with their homework. My kids are in 2nd and 5th grade, mind you. I sit there sometimes and wonder when all this stuff I learned in Middle School, began in Elementary these days. But I try really hard to help them when needed. Just because I Google about a certain thing when they aren’t looking… I’m at least trying to help them!

I pretty sure I covered a lot about this in one of my recent blogs, I’ve Sprung a Leak… and this is in relation to it, but not exactly.

The weird thing is, when I’m having a hard time cognitively, I can feel it coming on… I’m fatigued & confused about everything that’s going on during that time. Now, when I seem to be having these ‘common sense disappearing’ acts, it’s completely out of nowhere. Like how I was helping making the side for dinner, I had done math to add up measurements for a different side, with complete ease. But for some random reason, I couldn’t come up with how to get 2/3 cup from what I had in front of me.

Now, my husband says that at times, it seems like I do things without thinking first. So… I’m used to speaking before thinking it through in my head, and that can get awkward at times… but thinking before doing, the most simple task at times, I’ve thought about it, I have a plan in my head what I’m gonna do. For some reason though, I tend to do the complete opposite of what is supposed to be done. I mean, follow a direction… that’s common sense. We’ve been taught that from a very early age. But do I follow the directions even when I begin the task? Nope. My MS just decides it doesn’t like my ‘plan of action’ and decides to change it all up on me.

It sort of reminds me of that commercial for insurance, with the old fisherman dangling a dollar and saying, “Oh! You almost got it!” That’s how I feel at times. I know it frustrates my husband at times, when I don’t do things that are so easy. He understands y’all, let me just say that right now. But I can’t really blame him for getting annoyed about me not being able to do something to simple. He has told me in the past that he wasn’t frustrated with me, per se, but just seeing what I’m going through. I got the ‘huff’ of frustration… so I took it personally. But anyways… we won’t get into that at the moment.

So what about everyone else? Am I making sense? Do you feel like you’re having a “Good MS Day”, but still seem to not be able to grasp the simplest thing aka common sense? Did your common sense up and vacate the building?

 That’s all for now… it’s a Friday, and I really need to unwind with an adult beverage!

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

You are NOT Alone

Since I’ve been writing for a few years… I have had so many people reach out to me. As many of you know from my previous articles, I tend to be a bit sarcastic and a big sense of humor. So I wanted to touch base on the fact that what I’ve gone through and wrote about, I’ve had many people reach out to me.

You are not alone

So my point is to let you know that whatever you’re going through, you aren’t alone. I know that many people feel like they are isolated… that you’re alone, and no one understands what you’re going through… or people don’t care that you’re going through with it. This is me letting you know that you aren’t alone. I’m not going to sit here and tell you names of people that have reached out to me, but I am going to tell you that 100’s of people have come to me saying that they are thankful that they now know they aren’t alone.

I remember that when I was first diagnosed, I turned into a hermit. I was scared and depressed. I felt like no one knew what I was going through. I didn’t want to hear what anyone had to say. I didn’t care what anyone had to say to me, or any kind of advice they were trying to give. Because all I was finding online were scary. I walked into the local meeting and walked right back out, because no one there was my age and they were all using assistive devices. Being newly diagnosed, that is NOT something I wanted to see.

Then there are the symptoms that no one really likes to talk about, because they’re embarrassing. But how else are we supposed to prepare for them? I mean I sneezed one time and peed a little bit. (TMI, I know). I was in my mid 20’s at the time, and there was no one I knew that could relate to me in anyway, so I just became angry.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that we aren’t as alone as we think. There are so many people out there that go through whatever we might be going through at the time; we just don’t even know it. I’ve now spoken to so many different people that have MS. All different age groups, genders, geographic area… you name it, there is a complete difference in our backgrounds. First off we have Multiple Sclerosis in common. Secondly, we have symptoms in common. I’ve had people message me saying I took the words out of their mouth.

Connect with others

Check out the discussion forum on MultipleSclerosis.net and there will be so many different topics, you never even thought about. One of the good things about communicating with others online is that you are behind your computer. You can be anonymous, and not worry about “coming out” to someone in your local community. I’m very forward when it comes to me having MS and what I go through on a daily basis. However, I know that not everyone is as forthcoming as I am. But for all of you out there living with this illness, I just wanted to reassure each and every one of you, that no matter what you’re going through, you are NOT alone.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net**

I’ve Sprung a Leak

No, I’m not talking about THAT kind of leak, for starters. I just wanted to clarify that before I go any further. I needed to share what I’ve been dealing with a lot lately… and that’s my memory. It seems that I randomly just don’t remember certain things. Even things that are repetitive, like paying bills, it’s all completely slipping my mind. Hints the title, sprung a leak.

Memory issues can be very embarrassing at times. I try to laugh it off as much as possible, but I can’t always find the humor in certain scenarios. I mean, I’ve forgotten my age before… more than once… and it’s MY AGE! Like seriously? How do I draw a blank on that? Some people have probably thought I was severely intoxicated or something.

I’m known to have something pop in my head, which I need to remember. I usually add it to my ‘notes’ section on my phone… but at times, I’m like, “Oh, I’ll remember that.” Not five minutes later, and I’ve already forgotten what I was supposed to remember. I’ve started keeping a small notepad on me, so that I can write things down when need be… But recently, with the weather going from one extreme to another, my hands have been giving me issues… so it just depends on how I’m feeling. It never fails that my brain goes in to overdrive on things to remember, thoughts, article ideas, etc. It ALWAYS happens when I lay down to go to bed… Go figure right?

Setting up reminders

I’ve started adding all of my important dates, appointments, etc. into my phone with multiple reminders, right as my appointment is scheduled, or things of the sort. Or else, I won’t remember at all. Before I started doing this, I would get a Courtesy Reminder Call from my doctor’s office the evening before my appointment, and I would still forget by the morning. I’m sure I drive my husband crazy with this, always forgetting things. Thankfully, he has seen it happen first hand, and knows that I’m not just ‘being lazy’ or irresponsible, etc. If I miss paying a bill, and I get a call asking me what I haven’t paid, and if I can pay today… they have to ‘note’ a reason for the missed/late payment. I don’t know how many times they marked as, “SHE FORGOT”. Then I’m frustrated because they obviously have record of this, and are wondering why I’m always paying late, and that I’m just making excuses or whatever, but that’s not the case. I’m about to the point that I’m going to hand off the financial payments to my husband, because I just don’t feel like my brain can retain the information, ever.

I’ve been at a friend’s house hanging out, and I’ll go inside to refill my drink or something, and after five minutes, walk back outside not even knowing why I went inside. I will literally stand there and try to remember why I came in there, go through my thought process, what I was doing at the time, etc. Oh, by the way, I am on medication to help with my cognitive/attention issue… but it doesn’t seem to help at all times. I do much better around the 11am hour. However, come about 4pm, and it’s like my memory just goes to sleep till the next day.

It’s so frustrating

The worst part is that I don’t even have any one, physically, to be mad at. I try not to hold any negative emotions inside, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable. I remember that I used to be so good and remembering people’s numbers, birthdays, names, all of that. Now, if I meet new people, they have to keep repeating who they are to me, because I forget, especially in a large group setting. It’s almost like it’s ‘sensory overload’. Also, trying to remember things so often, brings on the MS Fatiguebig time.

Then there is the fact that if I get to know these new people and being to remember their names, if I don’t see them frequently, I will eventually forget their name, and I feel horrible about it. Before I was diagnosed, if someone forgot my name, that I knew and was around frequently, it hurt my feelings a bit. Now I’m on the other end of it, and it gives me a completely different perspective.

I’m sure I could write on this subject for days, but I’m going to stop it here. I will most likely revisit the subject in the future.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

**Originally Published on MultipleSclerosis.net** 

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**