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How do I help my friend with Multiple Sclerosis?

Hi Sam

Recently a friend of mine has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Although he is calm about it, I am not. I am finding it hard to accept, but also I don't know how to help him. I am scared about having to watch him deteriorate during his life, as in my past I lost a relative at a young age.

How do I control my emotions, and how do I help my friend through it?


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Being diagnosed with an illness can be a shock, but sometimes it's a relief to know what's wrong and to be able to get treatment and help. Sometimes a person might react more a while after the diagnosis, when things have sunk in more, and it’s natural to feel angry and upset at some point too. No matter how someone reacts, it’s important to let them know that you care and want to help.

Multiple sclerosis or MS is a condition that can effect balance, movement and coordination. How much someone is affected depends on the person. MS is a lifelong condition but that doesn’t always mean someone will be ill every day. For some people the symptoms get worse over time but for others the symptoms might come and go. There might be times when they have no symptoms at all.

You can help your friend by listening to how they're feeling and how their health condition is affecting them. There might be some changes in your friendship and the activities you do together but your friend is still the same person that they were before. It’s okay to ask if they want help but don’t pressure them to accept as they’ll probably want things to stay the same wherever possible.

How you feel is important too and it’s always okay to say when you’re finding it hard to accept the news. It could remind you about other times that you’ve seen a friend or family member being ill, or have lost someone, and you might feel worried about what'll happen in the future. If you’re feeling upset or worried you can talk to an adult you trust or to a Childline counsellor.

Remember, taking care of yourself and getting support can help you to feel calmer and to be there for someone else.

Thank you for your letter.

Take care,


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