Pictured: Gilly Pearce, who has had no movement from her neck down for some 10 years, taught herself to paint with her mouth. Her motto is “I work from the neck up”.
Zoom sessions and courses encourage MS patients to share and support each other.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society KZN is determined to honour its commitment to all members in an effort to make the lives of patients bright and cheery, and have embraced the virtual era with gusto – with all support groups and meetings on Zoom. This makes it easier to be in touch, as many find it difficult to get to a designated venue.
MSSA KZN recently hooked up with four wonderful UKZN Psychology Masters students who ran a four-session zoom care group, discussing anxiety and depression and how to cope with it. “As MS can be a debilitating autoimmune disease robbing patients of movement, cognitive faculties, dignity and setting of a plethora of unbearable symptoms, we are starting a programme which will, once a week, via zoom, connect with patients and offer courses,” explains chairperson Dee Munks – sharing the following ideas:
- Laughter Therapy
- Private therapy session with UKZN Psychology Masters students
- Talks by Dr Comrie who focuses on the immune system
- Art and Music Therapy
- Journaling and Poetry writing
- Public Speaking – get out of your comfort zone
- Art of Communication
- Mad Hatter Quizzes
- Vision Boards
- TRE sessions
- Food/Recipes for the MS body
“We are hoping this programme will put a spring in their step and let them know that they are valued and thought of,” adds Dee – encouraging readers with a special interest they can share with MSSA KZN to make contact.
FOR MORE INFO:
- 083 411 42 82
Notes from the UKZN Psychology Students
I feel grateful and privileged to have been a part of the MS Support Group. It was empowering to engage with a diverse group of people who continue to remain positive and honest with themselves, despite their challenging experiences. The session I hosted focused on a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skill of applying radical acceptance to living with MS. While this is an abstract concept and skill that can often be difficult to grasp, and some individuals may not be ready to begin to radically accept their unique condition, the MS support group were able to understand this skill, share their experiences, and apply it to their own lives in various ways.
Being a part of the MS Support Group was a heart-warming and enlightening experience. From the outset the entire group was welcoming and open, and incredibly supportive of each other despite the different stages of MS. The session I hosted touched on a topic that many may consider ‘taboo’ – namely reaching out for help. Even though the topic was a difficult, the group was open-minded and willing to share and contribute. I really enjoyed engaging with the group – such an important part of the MS community and a vital part of any person’s journey with MS.
Sannah Tsatsawane Zimbaye
My overall experience of the MS Support Group was nothing short of astounding. Attendance was progressively higher with each session, which led to increased information and experience sharing from members – who are resilient, open, trusting and transparent. I learned a lot just from facilitating and sitting in a few sessions, they were welcoming and receptive of the information and concept I shared – such as understanding anxiety and coping with uncertainty as MS patients. Members provide social support to each other which decreases the risk of social withdrawal – in instances where they may be experiencing overwhelming thoughts and feelings – thus contributing towards their mental wellness.
I enjoyed working with the MS support group, they have so much energy. Even though this diagnosis comes with a lot of emotional and physical problems, I observed them having a desire to be in control. The few sessions spent with them was beneficial, particularly because most of the time people presenting with MS are taught to focus on their physical challenges. Nevertheless, emotional challenges are just as essential, and lack of adequate support structure, may lead to them having mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. I also feel support groups are necessary for individuals presenting with MS as some go through so much loss, such as losing their loved ones and inability to do things they used to enjoy. Knowing that there are people you can reach out to, who are going through the same journey, is so beneficial.