(My nephew’s name is Rowan!)
I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It’s only been a week, so I don’t think you need to decide at this point how involved (if at all) you want to be with “The Society”.
You can get involved as much or as little as you want, and your needs and preferences may change over time, too. So you might find it quite daunting, at the moment, to meet up with a load of other people with MS - but there might be times in your life when you would like to. So you don’t have to decide today, for the rest of your life, how much you want to interact. That may well be a changing thing.
As you’ve no doubt discovered by now, you don’t have to be a member of the MS Society to use the forums. Some are, some aren’t. I was a member for about the first year after diagnosis, but didn’t feel I got a lot out of it, so I didn’t renew my membership. Doesn’t mean to say I won’t ever rejoin. I just don’t feel a compelling need at the moment.
And even if you do decide to become a member, it’s very much up to you how involved you want to be. I’m sure some people eagerly look for meetings, and other social activities. Others may just want to be kept abreast of the latest research, but not go to a meeting, club, or activity day, ever at all.
Reactions of friends and family can be rather odd, to say the least. Some react as if you’re certainly going to die - and soon! Others react as if they didn’t like your news, so they will just pretend they didn’t hear it, and make no reference to it ever again, so it’s the elephant in the room!
These forums are a godsend for things like that, because no matter what weird reactions you get, someone here will always have had similar, and be able to reassure that no, you’re NOT going mad - some friends and relatives really do react in bizarre ways!
I think the first week I was diagnosed, or thereabouts, a friend wrote making no mention I’d just been diagnosed with MS, but instead asked how my cold (which I coincidentally also had) was. You can imagine how baffled I was by that. I’ve got MS, but she wants to know about my cold?
Fortunately, folks here could see the funny side. Not much happens that somebody else won’t have had similar!