I’ve always been a naturally anxious person, but I feel things did begin to worsen when I started to develop symptoms of MS. I’m not saying it was a symptom of MS, exactly. I think it was more the case that I lost confidence, as daily life began to grow harder, but I didn’t know why. It felt as if I was actually getting worse at things. Now I know I’m ill, I can certainly see why I would feel this way, but at the time, I had no idea. I just seemed to find everything more daunting, for no discernible reason.
I don’t think it’s necessarily “part of” MS, but I certainly think it’s linked. Of course debilitating illness (and it IS debilitating, even if you have few visible symptoms) is going to affect confidence, and your sense of how in control you are.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, the solution that has worked well for me, but has proved controversial when I’ve posted about it in the past, is diazepam (valium).
The reason it’s controversial is that some people (not everyone) have had problems with addiction. So it has fallen out of favour with GPs and the public in recent years.
However, I tried all sorts of depression and anti-anxiety meds first. None helped, and most made me feel really poo, as well as NOT addressing the problem. Every time I complained of side-effects, I was told they were part of my “illness”, even though I’d always been anxious, but never had anything like this.
Diazepam was offered more or less as a last resort, and I wished to God it had been the first thing I’d tried, not the last. Months of persevering with the highly fashionable, but for me disastrous anti-depressants, before getting an old-fashioned prescription that actually worked.
Finally, something that did the trick, had no side-effects that I’ve noticed, and I only needed to take on an as-needed basis (when the anxiety’s really bad), and not every day, regardless how I was feeling.
I am still on them today, but only ever take them occasionally, and a pack of 28 lasts me months (half a tablet at a time). If that constitutes “addiction”, then it’s an addiction I can live with. It’s much better than the alternatives I’ve tried, which were doing nothing, and the (for me) detested SSRIs/SNRIs. I used sometimes to get so anxious I was vomiting, and on the loo so much I bled. Now, I don’t ever have to let it get to that stage. When I can tell that’s where things are heading, I can take the diazepam, and feel like a normal person once more!
I don’t feel “high” or intoxicated on them. I believe some people do, which is what contributes to the possibility of addiction. But for me, they’ve been a very practical and effective solution to the problem. An added bonus is that they also coincidentally treat MS spasticity, and are sometimes prescribed for that. So as well as feeling less anxious, I get a bit of relief from MS cramps and spasms (though I already take Baclofen for those).
Please don’t suffer in silence. Don’t wait 'til you are trapped in the bathroom with anxiety, as I was, before doing anything about it. It IS a health issue, and severely impacts quality of life, if left untreated. I cannot guarantee you will be offered valium, because of its “controversial” track record. I’ve been lucky to have a GP who’s been very open-minded, and responsive to my feedback that it was (and still is) the only thing that worked! But we’re all different, so other drugs might work for you, but please don’t just leave it, and let it ruin your life.