Life with MS

Learning to Let Go

By Jessica Petroff

When you are first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it can be extremely overwhelming – not just for you, but also for your family and friends. At first, you try to learn as much as possible about MS, so you can be prepared to advocate for your health and answer questions from family and friends. (At least, that’s how I was and still am.)

As time passes, your disease may start to progress. Along with more visible signs that you have a disease, you might find that family and friends start to distance themselves. They may eventually stop communicating with you altogether or make up excuses as to why they haven’t been in touch. If this happens to you, it is a hard pill to swallow. You ask yourself, “What did I do wrong? Did I complain too much? Did I talk about my disease too much?”

Unfortunately, I have personal experience with just that. As my disease has progressed, family and friends whom I always thought I could count on have slowly disappeared from my life. It is hurtful, but I’m learning to let it go. Some people just can’t handle change. They want to always see and remember you as you were before MS took over. Just like it is hard for them, it is also hard for me. I have to adjust to the changes and continue to learn to let go of what once was.

For those of you who have experienced, or are now experiencing, this, please know that it isn’t your fault. (It took me a while to accept that.) Thank the family and friends who are still around, who understand you, and help whenever you ask.

Learning to let go is never easy. This is especially true when it is something that you have no control over, like certain family and friends no longer being present in your life. By learning to let go, you will discover that you are stronger than you think you are. For me, it still hurts, and I doubt that my hurt will go away anytime soon, but at least I know I am doing what is best for my health and well-being.
Jessica Petroff has lived with MS for nearly 18 years, but was diagnosed only13 years ago. She has been married for 20 years to Doug and has two children, Kyle (18) and Cassie (15). She works as a certified medical assistant in family practice on an as-needed basis. She is an Ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in Indiana and also does patient and research advocacy.