How My Mom Being Diagnosed With MS Made Me a Better Person

Writing this blog post has been so hard for me.

Trying to think of all the positives of taking care of someone with MS when you’re 17 is not an easy feat. So I won't lie to you: It's not easy. It's not easy at all. It's not easy going from child to caretaker, it's not. Having to constantly take care of someone takes a huge toll on you. Now, I'm not the most experienced at being a caretaker or even at life, but I wanted to share with you some of the best tips that I have in being a caretaker and how to avoid not letting yourself have a life.

Manage Your Time

For most teenagers, you kind of have this instinct to want to go out with your friends and kind of leave your parents and not have to worry about them. But when you're constantly taking care of your parents, you don't really have time for yourself, and you kind of forget to take care of yourself. And for me, when I'm taking care of others, I forget that I need to be doing laundry, or I'm supposed to finish that assignment for school, or I made plans to hang out with XYZ, etc. And when I'm taking care of my parents and not doing those things, my parents get upset with me, and it really sucks.

So the biggest thing I'm going to tell you is you need to manage your time. Because taking care of others is very time consuming, so you need to make sure that you're getting everything you need to do done. As someone with ADHD, this was even more important because I get scatterbrained easily, and I tend to hyper focus on things, such as taking care of others and not myself (I also blame my personality). So maybe you can look into getting a planner or a bullet journal. There are plenty of helpful videos to help get you started in using them practically. For me, I use a bullet journal, and I force myself to sit down and think ahead of everything I need to do that week and write it down. Then at a certain time, my phone will tell me to check my planner to make sure I've gotten things done. That way I won't forget to get those things done.

Take Care of Yourself

I'm sure you hear this all the time, but it is so important to take care of yourself. If you're trying to take care of other people without taking care of yourself, you're going to burn yourself out. For me, I would constantly help my mom with what she needed and then not do anything I needed to do, which would cause a chain reaction in my helping her (would not be helpful) and then we'd both be upset with one another. So, it's so important that you take care of what you need to do that way neither of you will be burned out.

Your Way is Not the Highway

Just because you do things a certain way doesn't mean that your parents/whomever you're taking care of wants it that way. You're supposed to be helping them, not causing them more trouble, and if you insist on your way, you're doing more harm than good. So just do things the way they ask, and you'll both stay sane (hopefully).

Listen to Them

They may just need someone to talk to. I know with my mom, whenever she had her MS attacks in the middle of the night, I would sit with her and talk. It didn't matter what it was, we just talked, and I really listened to what she said. It's such a seemingly small thing, but it's so big.

Don't Blame Them

I've learned so much from taking care of my mom about how MS attacks someone. A lot of times, we say how unfair it is to us. While that’s true, it is unfair that MS puts my mom through all that she’s been through. She had to go through doctor's appointments on top of doctor's appointments just to know what was wrong with her, all the while getting sicker and sicker. Her children were upset because they couldn't do the same things they used to be able to do, like going to the library every week, or going to people's houses to hang out, or getting a snow cone every Friday for celebrating a good school week. They didn't get to do that anymore. But that not only affected the children, it affected her a great deal because she literally couldn't do those things. When you get diagnosed with MS, it doesn't just take away your physical health, but most importantly, your mental health. So, if they aren't able to do the same things they did before and you blame them, it damages them. It's your right to be upset that a person can't do the same things they used to do. Be as mad as you want. But do not ever think it's okay to take out the fact they can't do those things on them. They didn't choose to get sick, so you blaming them is out of the question. Don't do it.
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Emily Garrison

Emily Garrison is a teenager from Lousiana who likes to read and write books in her spare time.

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  • Molly De Mars   Mar 7, 2019 1:29 PM
    Thank you for sharing your story. You made some great points that young caregivers need to hear. I took care of my father throughout high school with his MS battle and never knew of other kids like me. Keep sharing!
  • Shelley Scanlan   Mar 7, 2019 1:31 PM
    I was 15 when my mom was diagnosed, and then 17 when she left my dad and I became the only driver in the home. It most definitely took a toll on me. Hugs to you, and kudos for taking care of your mom. I know from experience how difficult it is when you’re supposed to be the one being taken care of. I’m now 42, and I truly believe that I am the person I am today due to my mom’s illness. I lost my mom 2 years ago, but the lessons I learned from her and from taking care of her will be with me always.
  • Tanika Wilson   Mar 7, 2019 1:33 PM
    Awe this was beautiful I’m a ms caretaker too a wife. To a amazing man husband that has MS. I can so relate planning helps.
  • Theresa   Mar 7, 2019 1:34 PM
    I wanted to,cry after reading this because i can 100% relate. My mom has MS and I suffer from ADHD and it is a day to day battle. I am 32 with a husband and son so keeping up with tasks gets tiring.I am greatful for you to share your story and it makes me happy to know i have someone out there that can relate.
  • Kay Viellion   Mar 7, 2019 1:45 PM
    Emily, congratulations on your sharing and your attitude. I’m an old lady from New Orleans who has had MS for forty years, and I’m just learning how other folks are dealing with this. Hang in there!
  • Nancy Kritikos   Mar 7, 2019 1:48 PM
    Hi Emily! Thanks so much for writing this. I am on the staff in Louisiana and I would love to meet you in person and learn more about you. Where in Louisiana are you located? Can you send me an email and perhaps we can meet sometime soon. Thanks again.
  • Jaclyn   Mar 7, 2019 1:53 PM
    So beautifully written you are an amazing tee and you mom is amaziuas she raised an amazing your lady. May God Bless you and your Mom
  • Colleen   Mar 7, 2019 2:06 PM
    You are such a strong individual. My husband has MS and together we have a 12 year old daughter. We all struggles at times with the new normal and your reminder that it's no ones fault is such a good reminder. Thank you for your wisdom and keep sharing.
  • Susan   Mar 7, 2019 2:10 PM
    You are quite amazing, Emily! Thanks for the words of wisdom. They are appropriate for anyone who is helping to care for a parent under any circumstances (MS, Alzheimers, Senile Dementia, etc). Thank you for sharing.
  • AMBER ACOSTA   Mar 7, 2019 2:23 PM
    I am a mom with MS and it took alot of time away from alot of fun times with family . My husband took care of me for years . As he has passes away I am now without a care person . Thank you for sharing 🧡 I know your mom is very grateful to have you care for her . Healthy eating , vitamins and exercise helps 🧡🦋
  • Samantha Davidson   Mar 7, 2019 2:26 PM
    Thank you for your story, I was diagnosed when my children were teenagers. My daughter(she's in middle between brothers) has taken so much time from my day of diagnosis to the present for me. She was my rock, my smile, my helper, my chauffer, my hands and feet..... so very much to me every day. When she left to live at college two hours away from home, it was all she could do to turn me "over to the boys". She's graduating this May and moving across country for her Master's program. She still worries daily and keeps a pretty good eye on me from two hours away and will probably do so from states away also. Your story resonated with me for the good and bad memories those first few years after diagnosis. I can truly tell you that without my girl, I wouldn't have made it thru as well. All my family supported and loved me thru every day with this disease, but she saw a lot more of it up close than her siblings. I will always cherish the way our relationship grew even more. It takes a special child/children in today's world that can and will step into a roll reversal. Im so happy and blessed to say that I have 3 of them.
  • Jill Pargoe   Mar 7, 2019 2:26 PM
    I have MS and reading your writings helped my awareness of how my family has felt about my disease and you are right so thank you!
  • Sonya McCormick   Mar 7, 2019 2:28 PM
    This is so true and helpful. I taken care of my God sister for the last past 4 years who was diagnosed with MS. This is very encouraging. I appreciate your story. Because it has become my life. Thanks if you ever need some to talk to. Feel free to reach out.
  • Kristin G   Mar 7, 2019 3:03 PM
    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm 22 and my mom was diagnosed with MS a couple of years ago. I agree time management is the #1 thing that gets me through each day. I will do anything in this world for my mom, but it is always important in a situation like this that you don't lose yourself in the process. MS is a very life changing disease and I hope everyone who experiences this has someone standing next to them to just be there for them. Please, anyone connect with me to share your stories of being a caretaker for your parent.
  • Sharon   Mar 7, 2019 3:20 PM
    Emily, I am so sorry that you have to deal with so much at such a young age. I have MS and I was a caregiver for both of my parents. People don't understand what caregivers go through until they have to deal with being a caregiver themselves. I had to quit my job and my MS really suffered having to endure so much stress. Please reach out to your family and insist you take turns with helping out. I dealt with the majority of the responsibilities and I gave 3 siblings. If I had to do it again I would insist they have to help out. Someone once told me that our parents took care of us and now it is our turn to take care of them. That saying got me through a lot. We won't have our parents forever. Good luck to you!
  • Oksana Foltyn   Mar 7, 2019 5:19 PM
    Emily, thank you for your blog, it is very educational. I have two daughters with MS, that is why I read your blog. Take good care of yourself!
  • Samantha Zapoleon   Mar 7, 2019 5:53 PM
    Ur a great daughter & it will only make u a better person later in life. I'm 47 and I have been taking care of my Mom my whole life and I wouldn't change that for anything . I love my Mom and will always be there for her. So I admire ur strength . My Mom is completely paralyzed and she is the strongest person I know. I admire my Mom. stay a good daughter to ur Mom ❤️
  • Janet Caussimon   Mar 7, 2019 6:14 PM
    Thanks so much for telling us your perspective as a caretakers. It gives me an insight on how the other side feels. I unfortunately see it as someone that has MS but I appreciate your view. Thanks again.
  • Louise Barton   Mar 7, 2019 7:14 PM
    You are such a mature person for being only 17 years old. But I guess thst happens when you must care for a parent with any illness. I commend you, Emily. I know your mom is very thankful she has you in her world. I, too, have MS, 29 years, 27 were wonderful! Yes, I had attacks but nothing I couldn't handle. I could also, do everything, including walk, climb & everything else. Unfortunately, the last couple years, things have changed & I'm not always dealing with it positively. Again, thank you for being such a wonderful caretaker.
  • Crystal Y. Myers   Mar 7, 2019 8:09 PM
    I really enjoyed your article. I am a single mom w/ MS. My daughter is in her junior year of college & 21 years. She had to grow up quickly. I was diagnosed when she was 5years old. She learned @ that tender age how to give me I
    injections. However I continued to make sure she stayed involved in school & e/her friends even when I was sick. She spoke @ her HS graduation, she was senior class VP. She played the piano, viola, a
    was a cheerleader. If I sound like I am bragging lol, I am. So proud of my girl. She is my biggest supporter. Thanks so much for sharing your story. God bless you & your mom & take care of yourself as well.
  • The Rev Patricia D Stevens   Mar 7, 2019 8:41 PM
    Emily, you are a strong person and that trait will serve you well in life. You have a significant story to tell about your insights being a teen caregiver and help the younger ones.Keep sharing them.I was recently diagnosed with MS. I care for my 96 yr old Mom which wares me down. I'm 69.
  • Arnold   Mar 7, 2019 9:03 PM

    I am so impressed with a young woman taking on a caregiver role and being so articulate in describing it all. I recently lost my mother at 92. Nothing to do with MS at all but mainly age-related issues. My caregiver role was the greatest part of my life. It was never a burden, but always a labor of love. Cherish your mother and keep up the good work.
  • Linda Brewer   Mar 7, 2019 9:58 PM
    Emily, I think you are an amazing young lady!!!

    I am nearly 72 years old and was not diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS until November, 2003, at the age of 56. In the beginning of my diagnosis my it was hard to tell anything was wrong, but has progressed to using a power wheelchair. My husband has become the “caretaker” (a term he dislikes) and handles a full time job, errands, pays the bills, takes care of the laundry, irons his shirts, does the cooking, is active in our church and takes care of me.

    I know what you are dealing with and that tomorrow might bring new symptoms/challenges to take care of. Stay positive and develop a sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine.

    Praying for you.
  • Avatar
    phillyirish75  Mar 8, 2019 5:35 AM
    I really love your article, it really hits close to home. I am a mother that has MS and have a 15 year old son that has ADHD also. Your experiences that you expressed in this blog mean so much to me, because I know my son has done the same for me. Thank you so much for writing this, it literally brought tears to my eyes in a good way to know just how much you care for your mother. We live in New Orleans so I can only imagine your mother goes through some really tough times, especially during the summer when the heat is overwhelming. Again thank you Emily, you are so very special to your mother, trust me because my son is just that to me!!
  • Maegan Stacey   Mar 8, 2019 1:13 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story. I've been living with MS for over 23 years now and have a 13 year old daughter that is want's to be there for me. My Mother has MS as well so I help to take care of her. There are times when I push her away because I don't want to be a "burden" and I don't want her to turn into me as it relates to taking care my Mom.
  • Frances   Mar 8, 2019 6:02 PM
    Bless your heart. Your story is very inspiring. As a mom with MS and my two daughters having to be caretakers to me, I truly appreciate the insight that you shared. To all the teenagers and young adults that have to take time away from an informative time in your life you are truly appreciated. God bless you.
  • Ann   Mar 8, 2019 10:35 PM
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences. You are very insightful, kind and genuine. I wish you and your family all the best. God Bless- Ann
  • Kayla Collins   Mar 8, 2019 11:28 PM
    I really appreciate that you wrote this article. I’m 14, and my mom has relapsing-remitting MS. It’s not bad right now, but it’s still pretty scary because she has a ton of “silent” lesions on her brain. She’s currently attending online college, and she might have to get a job too. This was so inspiring, and it means a lot to hear another person’s input!
  • Barbara von Marschall   Mar 10, 2019 7:51 AM
    Dearest Emily
    Thank you so much. ❤️It
    This was beautiful, a very nice point
    of view.
    I’m diagnosed with ms . Normally you read about MS through MS patients !
    Thanks again
  • Barbara von Marschall   Mar 10, 2019 7:51 AM
    Dearest Emily
    Thank you so much. ❤️It
    This was beautiful, a very nice point
    of view.
    I’m diagnosed with ms . Normally you read about MS through MS patients !
    Thanks again