Paula, whose blog is about anxiety and MS

Living with anxiety and MS

I was diagnosed with MS four years ago, aged 22. I also live with anxiety, which means I sometimes feel fearful and scared in everyday life.

I can wake up feeling worried and nervous for absolutely no reason. It comes out of nowhere and it’s something I’ve experienced for years.

Having MS can be scary because you just never know how the condition is going to present itself or how it will behave. When I was first diagnosed I felt scared by uncertainty of it, not knowing what it would mean for me and my future. I soon realised that I needed to take control of my life and find a way to manage my anxieties. In turn, that would help me to manage my MS better.

Working out my challenges

I’ve found a variety of things help me manage my MS. These include diet, exercise and keeping a positive mindset by focusing on living a full life and challenging myself on a daily basis.

My anxiety used to sometimes get in the way of this because I would be too scared to exercise at the gym surrounded by lots of people. I worried that they were looking at me, and that I’d look stupid.

My dream career was to work in fashion, but at one point I was too scared to follow this dream because I was anxious about what people would think of me.

Managing stress and anxiety

I’ve experienced anxiety on different levels since I was 18, and have tried many things to manage it, including counselling. That taught me the importance of opening up to others and how simple and effective communicating your thoughts can be. Now if I’m feeling anxious I share how I feel - often someone else’s perspective can really help.

I'm also successfully managing my stress levels and anxiety through practicing daily mindfulness and using colouring books, which my mum introduced me to. These things help me to relax and gave me the confidence to go to the gym regularly. In turn, that’s helping my MS. So it’s a win-win situation!

Over time I managed to go back to school and study and am now working in my dream job in Selfridges as a visual merchandiser.

Focusing on the positives

With a friend at work I’m working through a ‘happiness planner’, in which we write our goals and hopes, and note down positive things that have happened each day. This is also a really positive way of keeping a note of how my MS is. Now I've got my little daily routines I’ve found there’s no reason for me to be scared at all.

Recently I saw a video about ‘dancing with fear’, which I shared on my blog. I think it’s a really nice way to look at things. I still get anxious but I work with my fears, using them as challenges. This gives me a great sense of freedom from anxiety.

Paula blogs at msdoingitmyway.com. She works as a visual merchandiser in London and in her spare time loves to read biographies and plan trips abroad.