Dear Barb—Selfish Concern

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am 19 years old and my mom was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Mom’s a single parent and I am her only child.  We have always been very close and get along well.  She has had a lot of symptoms, but we weren’t sure exactly what was causing them.  The MS diagnosis was a shock to us and now we have to find a way to cope.  I have no problem being my mother’s caregiver, but I have some concerns about whether I will be able to care for her properly.  Right now, she is not too bad; her symptoms have been vague, such as tremors in her hands, fatigue, numbness, and vision problems.  I am concerned about what may happen as the MS progresses.  What if I can’t manage?  I know there are support services, but I am concerned about the emotional affects.  I love my mom and hate that this is happening to her. 

I guess I am looking for some support.  I want to care for my mom, but I also want to have a life.  I want to go to college and one day get married and have children.  I feel selfish thinking of myself while my mom is going through this terrible situation.  Am I being selfish by thinking of myself at this time?  Maybe some other students or readers who are going through similar issues would be able to offer me some advice.  Thanks Tanya.

Hello Tanya:

So sorry that you have to go through this at such a young age, well, at any age really.  The symptoms of MS vary from person to person.  How the disease progresses is unpredictable.  Some individuals remain stable for years, but for others the progression is rapid.  You should be connected with the MS Society of Canada.  I am sure they will be able to answer your questions and provide you with the support you need.  I would definitely suggest you and your mother join a support group.  You both will need help to navigate this somewhat difficult journey.

But, no, you are not being selfish.  It is normal to want to have a life for yourself  while also caring for your mother.  I think you are getting way ahead of yourself, right now.  You said your mom is doing okay right now and she may remain stable for a long time.  It would be a good idea for you to continue your education and plan for a future.  When your mother’s situation begins to decline and she needs more care, the MS Society will be able to direct you to the facilities that you and your mom require.

In the meantime enjoy your mother and continue to live your life.  Hopefully someone who is going through a similar situation will reach out to The Voice.  Thanks for writing.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.