Medication and love


I am from New Zealand, am 24yrs old and was diagnosed with MS (RR) 6 years ago at the age of 18. This followed a series of grand mal focal seizures in my left hand which left me hospitalised. I had previously had an attack of MS as a 7yr old which was misdiagnosed. Since my most recent attack I have taken Copaxon daily and I live as a ‘healthy person’ without symptoms or problems (except possibly for slightly violent mood swings but as of yet they have not officially been linked to MS). My most recent MRI (last year) shows no sign of any lesion or damage to my brain.

Several months after my diagnosis I met someone who changed my world. 5 years older than me, he was the most kind, interesting and intelligent person I had ever met. His university education is in biochemistry so his understanding and appreciation of MS is thorough, to say the least. Fast track 5 years and we are married and living in Belgium where his employer provides both my treatment of Copaxon, my work permit and our apartment. However, moving abroad together has taken it’s toll on our relationship, particularly from my end as I married my first and only love at a very young age. Several months ago I met someone else with whom I fell in love. After the realisation that I had crossed this line (obviously several other lines had already been crossed) I confessed everything to the man I am married to, cut communication with the second man and we have enrolled in marriage counselling. He is desperate to save the relationship and has said he can’t imagine a world without me. On my part I feel that I married too young and and have realised that there are many bridges and paths I need to cross by myself before I am happy with who I am as a person. As I earn very little my entire life is essentially supplied by my husband. On top of this I work in an extremely stressful environment and have just been told that my employer will be closing the company within the next few months.

I am desperate not to return to New Zealand so the only visa available to me is a 2 year youth mobility visa to the UK (where I would love to live anyway). However, this would mean walking away from my medication. It is obviously incredibly wrong to stay with someone (even though I still love him) because they can supply me with my medication, yet walking away from that is extremely dangerous. I have always been determined that MS would not dictate my life but I find myself in a position where it’s suddenly calling the shots. I am extremely fit and eat mostly organic/non processed and sugar free foods as I have heard that this can help.Of course I want to stay symptom free for as long as possible, however, there’s a part of me that says you’re only young (and healthy) once so do what you must while you still can.

I wondered if anyone had any experience with coming off medication and trying to maintain health through diet and exercise? My second question is what people thought concerning mental happiness without medication verse medication and unhappiness? I know MS is heavily linked to depression and I don’t want that to manifest itself in any way, shape or form.

Fortunately I don’t have choose between ‘medication + unhappiness’ and ‘no medication + happiness’, and neither do you. Life doesn’t work like that. If you are going to be happy without medication, you would be happy with it, pretty much (plus a bit better at getting around longer term, perhaps). And vice versa.

I am sorry that you have so much trouble at your door. One suggestion: even if you think you are past the point of no return in your marriage, the process of relationship counselling might help you to tease out hold up to scrutiny the cause of your current unhappiness. It is important to positively identify what it is you want rid of. Obviously, you want rid of your MS - don’t we all? - but that option isn’t available, alas. Please do take a clear-eyed look in the mirror and make sure that you aren’t regarding your relationship as a proxy for MS and getting rid of that instead out of sheer distress at your inability to shake off the MS.

I have form for turning my distress on the wrong target because the real target - MS - is invulnerable and regretting it later. I hope that you will accept this hard-won knowledge as an apology for my intrusive answering of a question you didn’t ask.

Good luck.


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Hi Alison,

Thanks for your reply. I guess what I’m trying to do is figure out a way of removing the ‘MS’ component for the equation in order to look at everything else with clear eyes - you are absolutely right that it’s easy to confuse MS with other problems (and visa versa). Of course it’s just that much harder when there is so much ‘unknown’ in one’s future when MS is involved.

Thanks again,

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Good point: the confusion can, indeed, work in both directions.