Managing your feelings and emotions
When someone you love has a serious medical condition like MSA it is understandable and normal to experience a mix of feelings and emotions that can be hard to express.
There are no right or wrong feelings. They are real for you and it is important to recognise how you feel and find ways to manage any difficult feelings and emotions.
One really good way to manage any difficult feelings is to write down any negative feeling on a piece of paper then screw up in a tight ball and throw it in the bin. If you can think of positive things keep a personal journal and write these down too to keep and look at when you are feeling down.
Below are some feelings you may recognise and some suggestions for how to manage them:
Fearful and anxious – It is difficult to be faced with a situation you have no control over and you may worry about how things will change as time goes on. Talking about these fears with a trusted friend or teacher, your parents or your siblings can help get these feelings in perspective. If you can identify something you are particularly fearful or worried about, this can make it easier to find ways to manage these feelings.
Angry – It is ok to feel angry. You may feel angry about the whole situation, or specific things e.g. because you need to help out more, or have less time with friends. Finding ways to deal with those angry feelings safely and without hurting others is important. Getting out of the house to kick a ball around, smash a tennis ball against the wall or scream and shout into space can really help release the anger.
Worried – Similar to when we feel anxious it can really help to focus on what it is we are worried about. It is really true that a worry shared is a worry halved. If you can be brave enough to try to talk to a trusted adult or friend that may help. If you don’t feel you can talk to anyone then try drawing or writing about what is worrying you in a personal journal. Find a way to describe your worries in whatever way is best for you, this can make them feel more manageable. Try to focus on and enjoy what you are doing at any moment. You can’t change the past and no-one knows what the future holds.
Resentment –You may wonder why this has happened to your family. You just want to be normal like everyone else. If you are feeling like this try to think of all the good things that you have in your life too. Think about what is special about the person with MSA and why you love them. Also, talk to your friends and school about how you feel. You may be surprised to discover there are other young people dealing with difficult times. This may help you feel you are not on your own, and that there are others who understand how you feel. Everybody faces difficult things at some point in their lives.
Guilt – It is easy to make ourselves feel guilty about things. You may feel guilty for still being able to do and enjoy things that the person with MSA can’t anymore. You may feel guilty because you resented a change in plans because they were unwell or you said something that was not very nice to them. Be kind to yourself. We all have moments we are not very proud of – admit them to yourself and think about why you behaved like that. If you have the chance, apologise and move on. You are ‘allowed’ to be normal and do things with your friends. You don’t have to be talking and thinking about MSA all the time. If you have done something enjoyable, share it with the person with MSA. They will be happy that you are doing fun things and that you have shared these with them.
Loneliness – It can feel like you are the only person dealing with something so difficult. Sharing how you feel with family members can be really supportive and you may find they feel the same. If you think it may be too difficult or emotional to talk to someone else in the family, there may be someone at school or work you could talk to. You may find there is someone in a similar situation and you can support each other. Alternatively you may prefer to join one of the online forums (see more here).
Sadness – It is understandable that you will feel sad seeing someone you love struggle to do everyday things, or no longer able to do things they enjoyed. Sharing what you enjoy doing can really help them seeing the pleasure you are getting out it. Also, spending time with them doing things together you can share e.g. developing a scrap book of their life and sharing stories of times when they were your age. Doing things together can be really positive and enjoyable, but may also at times be very emotional. It is ok to allow those emotions out. Sharing a good cry can release the tension and help you and the person with MSA.