If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for the medical condition — particularly in March, which is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation. You might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about MS is important so your friends, family, and acquaintances can better understand how to support you.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics about MS. Learn more about MS’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the brain and spinal cord, also referred to as the central nervous system or CNS. MS can be treated, but there is not yet a cure. Symptoms vary among people with MS, but motor and cognitive problems are among the most common. Most people with MS eventually develop some degree of disability. MS is very rarely fatal, and on average, people with MS have similar life spans as people without MS.
MS is an autoimmune disease. In other words, the damage from MS is caused by the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues. Specifically, the immune system attacks myelin, a fatty tissue that lines and insulates nerves, and sometimes attacks the nerves themselves. As myelin is destroyed and the nerves degenerate, signals become slower and less effective, and disability accumulates.
After you’re armed with information about MS, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about MS, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about MS.
You can follow and share messages from the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also check out messages from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
To ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate MS-related hashtag, like #MultipleSclerosisAwareness or #MSAwarenessMonth. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with MS to realize they aren’t alone. Joining an MS community on social media, such as MyMSTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about MS is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk, run, bike or swim for MS, play bingo, participate in fundraising activities, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about MS while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you’re able, you can also donate (or encourage others to donate) to organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America to support MS advocacy and research.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It’s emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On MyMSTeam, more than 181,000 people living with MS come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your MS journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.