Kirsty Bennett was diagnosed with MS in 2010, aged 21. She volunteers with us to run Living Well with MS sessions in Scotland.
1. Self-management can help your confidence
When you’re diagnosed with MS you can feel like your world has been turned upside down. Going on a self-management course helped me to regain my confidence and come to terms with my diagnosis.
2. You’re not alone
Self-management can make it sound like you’re on your own managing your MS. But that’s not what it’s about. There are lots of people who can and want to help, such as friends and family. Asking for help can be very hard but it can really make managing your MS easier.
3. You can still do things if you adapt
Self-management can help you think of ways to adapt, so you can still do what you want to do. For example, I sit on a stool to do the dishes rather than stand. And I drive an automatic car which is easier on my legs and less stressful.
4. Thinking positive really helps
Having a positive outlook on a bad day is not easy but it helps get you through. We can all forget how to think positive. I find it useful to refer back to the tips and things I’ve learnt from the self-management course.
5. Pacing yourself is very useful
I’m still learning the skill of pacing myself! If I have lots of energy I want to get everything done – then I exhaust myself. But it’s good to remember it’s OK to leave the dishes if you’re having a bad night. Sitting and chilling out will help you in the long run. Or you could see if someone else could help you (see no.2!).
6. Certain things motivate and nourish me
It’s good to have a purpose in life and to set goals. I’m studying for a psychology degree part time through the Open University and that really motivates me. Another thing that’s really important for my wellbeing is socialising and meeting up with friends.
7. You have a voice in your care
To me, self-managing means you have a voice in your care and are an equal partner with your doctor. Since doing the course I’ve become more confident in telling health professionals what my preferences are in my care and treatment.
Kirsty works in finance with her local council and was recently promoted. She married her husband Scott at the beginning of 2016.