Multiple Sclerosis can be a very isolating condition. When I was first diagnosed, I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to see my friends, I was no longer attending Sunday dinners at my parent’s house and date night with my wife was a thing of the past. I just wanted to stay inside my house and hide from the outside world. I didn’t want anyone who knew me to think about me as a patient. I wanted everyone to remember me as the big, strong guy that used to play football and hockey, not as someone with a potentially disabling condition.
I stayed like this for a long time. It was more than two months before I ventured out to a social gathering. It was my 29th birthday at my parents’ house. I had one rule for attending the party – only my close family could be invited. And yes, it was uncomfortable at first. My birthday was awkward and people were walking on eggshells, trying to be positive and upbeat. The same was true with my friends when I first saw them.
Then my wife said something that changed the conversation. She said, “Matt, you teach people the way that you want to be treated. “
Those words really resounded inside me because I had been subconsciously pushing people away and being short with my responses, because of how I felt about myself. Once I changed the conversation and acted like the old Matt, despite the diagnosis, people started treating me the way that they always had. They even started joking with me again. And it felt good, but I wanted to find people who could relate to what I was going through.
That is when I turned to the National MS Society and started making connections with people like me, living with MS that were local. In these groups, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. The National MS Society recently updated their website making it easier than ever to find groups near you.
If you are looking to connect with others living with MS in your area follow these simple steps:
Finding Your Local National MS Society Chapter
- Type the following address into your browser: http://www.nationalmssociety.org
- Click the ‘IN YOUR AREA’ icon. This will take you to the location screen.
- Either enter your zip code or the zip code of the area where you are looking to find a local National MS Society Chapter then press the ‘Enter’ key.
- Click on the drop-down arrow to select from a list of states. Once you select a state off of the drop-down list you will automatically be moved to a list of local chapter options.
- Click on the name of your local chapter to arrive at the local chapter page. There are quick links at the bottom: Chapter Home, Join an Event, Find Resource & Support, or Stay informed.
Once on your local chapter’s page you will find resource links, phone numbers and other ways to get connected. You are not alone in this fight and the National MS Society is a great way that you can connect with others living with MS.