Robert on the curling rink

Team sports and talking therapies help me live life to the full

Robert is a member of the Lanarkshire MS Society group. From talking therapy to sports, there’s something to suit everyone’s needs.

I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2014 and joined my local MS Society group straight away. I googled “support for people with MS in Lanarkshire”, and there they were. The volunteers have helped me in so many different ways.

Scottish Curling

A few years ago I went to a curling taster at the local Hamilton ice rink. As part of the Lanarkshire group’s Active Together programme, this event and other activities were created to get people with MS moving and exercising. Curling’s a Scottish sporting tradition that was originally played on the frozen lakes, so it was really great to be part of this. We had Paralympians Aileen Neilson and Michael McCreadie there, with Jim Morrison from the Scottish Curling association. To meet them and get coached by them was unbelievable, I absolutely loved it.

I came off the ice and thought I’m going to do this, so I went along to their weekly sessions. Next thing you know they ended up choosing me for the team and I started going to championships. That’s the best part. Scoring the highest points for my team and winning the match. The crowds cheering, my team’s cheering. It’s absolutely brilliant and we’ve got the medals to show it.

If it wasn’t for the local MS Society group taster session I don’t know what I would have done. It opened up my mind to try new things and try sports. My personality has changed as well, I’ve become livelier. Activity like this opens up a network of people and can help with living with MS so much, improving mood and symptoms.

Using the Talking Therapies service

My MS medication and another medication reacted badly together and affected my mental health, leading me to need treatment for depression in hospital. When I got out, volunteer Karen told me that she believed that the Lanarkshire Talking Therapies sessions might be good for me, so I went along.

Nicola the therapist, talked to me about how I was feeling and taught me coping tools like breathing techniques and meditation, which really helped to calm me down. I don’t use them now because I’m feeling so much better. But I know the tools are there if I need them.

Nicola said “the volunteers and staff member Tracey have worked so hard to get the service up and running and get the word out. Dealing with MS affects a lot of people’s mental health and they saw there was a great need for it. There isn’t a lot of counselling freely available and accessible to people and there certainly wasn’t anything specifically for people with MS.

The service has grown massively over the last few years. It’s so rewarding to be able to support so many people. I’m even continuing to provide the service during the coronavirus pandemic, on the phone and via Zoom. Recent events have been such a rollercoaster for everyone so it’s important to be able to do this. We’ve been getting really positive feedback. The volunteers are fantastic, they have so much knowledge and help people in so many different ways”.

Volunteer with us

The COVID-19 pandemic means we can’t meet face-to-face right now, but there’s still ways to you can help us be there for everyone with MS. If you can volunteer some time remotely, by phone, video call, or online we’d love to hear from you.

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Photo: The Hamilton Advertiser

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