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Talking to friends and family

There is no right or wrong way or time to tell your family you have MS.

This page takes you through some of the things you might want to consider when telling your friends and family you have MS, and has some tips about how to tell them and how to deal with their reactions.

Telling your parents

Grief and worry are normal emotions after such a big bit of news. Parents, after all, tend to worry about their children, even long after they have grown up.

People with MS often say their parents felt guilty after their diagnosis believing that they had somehow 'given' them the condition.

Try giving them information about MS to look at in their own time and then give them time and space to digest it. It can also help to be open and willing to discuss any questions and concerns they may have.

Your parents have probably been with you through the ups and downs of your life up until this point, and this is just another part of the journey.

Often, people take their cue from you on how they should act.

It might be helpful to consider how you would want your parents to react if it were you in their position.

My mum wanted to wrap me up in cotton wool when I told her. I really appreciate my family's support. I just want them to realise I can still do stuff for myself.

Telling your partner

If you have a partner, then your MS will change their life as much as yours. This can be worrying for both of you and they might need your support as much as you need theirs.

It helps to remember that it will take time for your partner to absorb what you have said.

If you’re telling your partner a while after your diagnosis, think how long it has taken you to accept your illness. If you’ve been recently diagnosed you will probably have a lot to deal with yourself before you feel able to take on your partner’s worries and fears.

Try to think about telling your partner as the start of a discussion. A lot more communication will be needed over time.

Remember you can't predict the future. All relationships have their ups and downs, and any number of things can bring them to an end - or not. As with all issues that affect couples during their relationship, communication and understanding are vital.

"The hardest thing I've ever had to do was tell my partner that I had MS. How could I expect him to understand and support me when I hadn't even accepted the truth myself?"

Talking to your friends

Everyone is different, so people may deal with the news you have MS in different ways.

Whatever a person's reaction, talking about it with them can be really helpful. Try to look at people's questions objectively and don't take them personally.

Be honest with your friends. It can really help to talk honestly – and often – to each other.

And encourage your friends to talk openly to you about your MS and about how it makes them feel.