a yellow, blue, and red award ribbon with crying faces drawn on

Dealing With One-Upmanship

Like many people suffering from a chronic and often invisible illness, I rarely bring up how I am actually feeling when talking to someone. Even when specifically asked, I’ll give the standard “I’m fine” or “oh, you know, good days and bad”. I will, occasionally, if I feel comfortable enough, be more truthful and explain that I’m in pain, or I had a bad fall, or I’m fatigued, or any of the many, many symptoms I encounter. Being truthful about how I actually feel is a rarity, so it’s especially disheartening to have someone complain about their own health afterwards. Regardless of the reasons for doing it, this act of one-upmanship can be especially discouraging to those with a chronic illness.

Why do people do this?

I’m not entirely sure why people feel the need to one up someone when it comes to talking about their health. Some people will obviously be trying to sympathize and show that they too know what it’s like to feel crappy. I’m sure some people don’t know how to relate and think that talking about the negatives of their health seems like the best option. Others though, just need to be the center of attention. They always have to be the person with the worst condition. If you are fatigued, well, they’re “super tired”, too. If you are in pain, they’ve also got pain somewhere. Whether it is truly trying to relate to us or just trying to gain superiority and attention, it’s still pretty demoralizing.

We aren’t always truthful

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not always truthful about how I’m feeling when asked. I get asked a lot, too. When people find out you have a chronic illness, you tend to get that question more than most. Some people start to identify you by your disease and can’t help it. They see you and are compelled to say something, often with a slightly tilted head, asking, “so how are you feeling?”. Obviously, not many want to actually hear the truth. For many, it’s a social grace. There is the sick person, let’s check on them. That’s certainly one reason many of us will just put on a smile and say we are fine. We also very much feel that few people can actually understand what it’s like to have MS, unless they have it themselves. The rarity of our disease, coupled with symptoms that are often invisible, make it easier to simply say that we feel fine.

Dealing

Everyone has problems, I get it. Everyone’s own problems are always the biggest in the world to them, I get that too. However, when someone with a chronic illness, like Multiple Sclerosis, actually opens up about how they feel, it’s important to respond correctly. We aren’t looking for attention, we aren’t looking for sympathy, we just want someone to listen. We don’t even expect you to understand, in fact, we know you can’t, but sometimes, it’s good to just vent. It can be refreshing to be honest and admit that we don’t feel well. There are times when we simply have to be honest. When someone immediately follows up with a complaint about their health, it diminishes our admission. It makes us much less apt to be truthful in the future and it makes us feel like you aren’t really listening.

Thanks for reading!
Devin

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Comments

View Comments (67)
  • LuvMyDog
    3 months ago

    If stating my opinions in an honest and straightforward manner is offensive to you or anyone else, I can only imagine that you and other people who feel the same way are overly sensitive and prefer only blue birds and butterflies, smiles and chirpy Hallmark cards.
    My life is far from all of that.
    I am not a phony, I was brought up to be brutally honest and was told many times as a child that people over the years would resent my honesty because very few people want to hear the truth.
    My father was never wrong and here is another example.
    I’m not about to say, thank you for a brilliant article if I feel differently.

  • Flowers For Algernon
    3 months ago

    I don’t think anyone advocated that you do amigo. My father used to say:

    “You can tell someone that when you gaze upon their face, the hands of time seem to stand still. You could tell someone their face could stop a clock. You said the same thing, so why are they responding differently?”.

    I have a tendency these days (involuntarily) to jump quickly to the your face could stop a clock. I have almost always found that when I had more control to be honest in a conducive fashion instead, it served me better if I cared to have further interaction with the other party.

    Just saying. One should also avoid absolutes. I assure you, at some point, your father was wrong.

  • Hollithia1
    7 months ago

    I agree. I always want to complain but have come to realize that it is pointless and counterproductive. Still validation is so important. Thank you for your column. It helps so much to hear it from someone else’s perspective.

  • jdarie
    7 months ago

    People don’t know what to say, myself included and I have had MS for 43 years. I have said some of the stupidest things, responding to other’s about their issues. When we Do share, we want empathy but have just be willing to accept how the other person’s day is going. Unless it is an intimate conversation, I find it better to just keep it simple and say fine. If I am out and about, I probably am!! And “ look good too!”

  • RuthGeller
    7 months ago

    I’ve had MS for 35 years and have definitely learned that for the most part, people are not perceptive. Now, when someone asks me how I’m feeling, I try not to judge them. There are so many out there who are totally unmindful and incapable of learning what it’s like to be living with a chronic disease. Mostly I find these people lacking and unaware of the trauma of “others” in so many ways. I’ve learned that some people can’t grow, can’t change, and some can’t move away from their own total self involvement. What I can change is my response; my attitude; so I find myself trying to keep my stress on the back burners; because I know that stress is a killer. When someone asks me how I’m feeling I usually say: ” Within the parameters of handicaps, continued pain, overwhelming fatigue and severely limited function, I just take it one day at a time. And – If they then open up to me me with sincere inquiry, I find I am sometimes surprised. And that surprise is always pleasing. And then, I can open up and talk; the plus is that I have learned to be a better listener.

  • ggsmslife
    7 months ago

    Its definitely a slippery slope. Like you said Devin, most people do not understand and it is always, i feel, that they have it worse and they glaze over when you go into any detail. Its sad, frustrating and neverending. For some of us we dont “look” sick though we are often dismissed or approached with confusion…”what do you mean you would love to go, but cant? Whats holding you back?”….well..if they paid attention, had a good memory, educated themselves in MS-even just a little, knew you better they would not ask such a question.
    I have missed out on many outdoor things with friends and family. My kids Im sure were disappointed on occasion. Im sure I was much worse. Ive learned over time that it doesnt matter how much you want people to know, remember from one event to the next, understand, empathize with you it just doesnt happen. I put on a smile, do the best I can to be normal, keep chit chat to the minimum for those that dont really know me. I think some just ask how you are to start a conversation. I try a different way… like “Its a hot day, its a beautiful day, wow birds are really chirping today, looks like rain”, etc. I skip right over how i’m feeling abbs try not let the conversation go that way. Works pretty good, at least for me.

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    All I say fine then keep busy, even if I feel like I’ve Been hit all over with a bat. No one has to know unless you tell them

  • jdarie
    7 months ago

    Plus, sometimes when someone starts right off-the-bat, to start really going on about ‘a problem,’ at “times” I have wanted to say, Yea, know, I am just here to have a nice time, because I don’t get out much, and I am not your close friend or counselor!’

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    Very good I look. At this way they mean will. They just can’t understand.i just day same old day as yesterday

  • ElizabethS
    7 months ago

    I understand the frustratration of this. My sister, who has arthritis does it. She’s 11 years younger than me, so I find it fairly easy to tell her, unlike less familar people, to just to knock it off!

    What I like even less, however, is when people QUIT telling me about things that bother them because I have it ‘worse’ than them. I don’t want to quit being a reciprocating friend. Once, when I was in the hospital for an eating disorder, a very wise nurse asked the question “If I have a broken arm and you have a broken arm,.whose hurts worse?” That was many years ago, and it stuck with me.

    She was talking about emotional pain or we, as patients, holding back on groups because some else’s experience was always worse. It’s almost impossible to quantify pain.

    Another person’s pain can seem to them the same as MS seems to us. No, they don’t get it, because they can’t. I would never have understood until it was me.

    My solution isn’t not sharing things, but as often as possible being clear what I need from the interaction. if someone asks how I’m doing, and we have some time, I might ask on kind of light note if they want the short (or polite) answer, or the real one.

    Or if I request someone’s time, I try to ask them if they can listen until I’m finished (my train of thought is crap), or depending on the person, that I just want someone to feel sorry for me. I almost never get into feeling sorry for myself, so it’s fairly well received when I do. Of course when I am that open, I risk rejection, but it usually doesn’t happen.

    Of course, having had 24 years of MS to figure this out and 26 years of therapy helped me get the point that I now know what works for me. Hopefully, it can save someone else some frustration.

    And if someone already wrote along these lines, I apologize. I am falling asleep and couldn’t read ALL the comments and write one, too.

    I would encourage anyone with MS… DON’T STOP TALKING!!!

    Set it up to work…choose who and when and where; identify and communicate expectations.

    I have found support in the most unexpected places.

    Sorry–I have 7 siblings, and I’m not even the bossy one in the family. If it sounds that way it’s because I am always pleased to share something that has really worked.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much ElizabethS! I very much agree that you shouldn’t stop talking, it doesn’t have to be to everyone, I feel there is value in venting and talking about our struggles, even if it’s just on a site like this. I also can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to talk to a counselor/therapist on a regular or semi regular basis.

  • Irishmar8
    7 months ago

    You made me realize it’s ok not to be the rock of the family anymore. I hate it. With aging in MS and my new Progressive diagnosis, I feel like I’m starting the fear factor all over again. I still don’t like to talk about it. Maybe I should get a therapist, they have to listen and I like the fact that wouldn’t know each other as friend or family.

  • DeBe
    7 months ago

    Right on! I have this ongoing conversation with one family member who has glaucoma. It goes something like this:
    Me: I can’t walk.
    Her: I can’t see.
    Me: I can’t walk.
    Her: I can’t see.
    What is this? A competition?!

  • Elyn
    7 months ago

    Hi Devin,

    Thanks so much for this!

    Like you, I’ve encountered others who aren’t very good listeners, try to tell me how being tired is simply what happens when we age, etc. There have even been times when my health was severely compromised because I traveled in the heat and those I was traveling with couldn’t/wouldn’t understand that I was shutting down.

    I used to believe that MS would keep me from relationship and friends. When I was first diagnosed, I lost a lot of friends and the things people said to me ranged from astounding to cruel. I now know that MS is a great filter. Those who are worth holding onto make an effort to understand what’s really going on with me.

    I’ve also come to understand that we’re all afraid of sickness and death and that those who are not chronically ill have never had to live with those feelings and really process them.

    Depending on the day, I can feel patient with their attempts at connecting, other days, I feel angry, sad, and misunderstood. I also give room to my friends who do understand to be angry and disappointed in me when I can’t keep a date or show up for an important event.

    I think that there are few people out there who are actually good listeners. It’s a skill and needs to be worked on diligently. Not many people have it.

    Keep sharing!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much Elyn! MS really is a great filter. It definitely allows us to identify not only the good listeners, but the true friends as well

  • Clarissa
    7 months ago

    Thanks for this, Devin. I think we’ve all been in this very place/situation. My go-to response tends to be, “Oh, hanging in there. Thanks for asking. How are you?” I only share details if the person is someone very close to me and they really seem to want to know. In truth, most of the time I find the subject of my own pain to be a very boring topic of conversation, so I avoid it.

    For me, it helps to remember that nobody has a monopoly on pain and suffering. My mom used to say, “Everybody has their own bag of rocks to carry; just some bags are bigger than others.” I do think that you are right that many listeners are prompted to share their own troubles as a way of trying to relate to us, to find common ground.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank so much Clarissa, appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • Dorry
    7 months ago

    Devin you are right it doesn’t cost anything to listen to other’s. I also find that when dealing with people they become evasive by saying “Well I expect there are other people with worse problems than mine” I usually say to that person. You have a right to express how you feel and be VALIDATED. Without feeling as if other people’s problems are worse. A lot of sensitivity and caring is lost. People do become so self absorbed if they actually took time out to LISTEN to other’s challenges and REALLY HEAR their pain they may feel better about their own problems. But sadly the only person who would be impartial is a trained counsellor. Which is why I have used one and feel better for it. Physical pain is hard to live with 24/7. So hard day in and day out that you feel you are screaming inside for someone to really hear how you are feeling. I never tire of listening to people who need support and need to VENT.
    You write well and very articulate in describing how you feel. It doesn’t cost anything to listen to another’s pain. Even if the listener cannot solve anything. Being available and sensitive and caring is all people really want in the end. Society is so self absorbed and the SELFIE says it all. It is all about “ME”. The world is not very nice a the moment. Living with PAIN. Wears one down and it is so very hard to endure. So hard to see beyond one’s pain when that is all one has to live with day in and day out. You have a right to VENT.

  • rayche
    7 months ago

    Good article. Moan:sometimes stuck for vocab now. Ive heard people say their fatigued or exhausted. What do I say? That In super-fatigued, next it will be double- super fatigued or something.Everything is extreme it seems.(not everwhere thank goodness. Uplift: Which brings me to the way we respond to speech as human beings, which brings me to the skill of listening, which is a skill which isnt generally taught or deemed “important” in our culture but has to be learnt because its really important. I think we are just starting to realise this ( in alot of areas anyway), so that is uplifting for all of us.

  • Michelle
    7 months ago

    This is why I keep my feelings to myself. No one really knows how I feel or if I a having a bad day. Except for my son or maybe I may tell me friend. Sometimes she tries to one up me too, so I keep my bad days to a minimum with her too. I just want someone to listen! Thanks for sharing your story, I appreciate you!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you Michelle and Dorry, very good point, just having someone listen, just having someone show that yes, they care, can be so amazingly helpful.

  • Dorry
    7 months ago

    Michelle I am so sorry for how you feel but you are so right. I just want to say.
    I CARE!!!

  • Azjackie
    7 months ago

    Devin I totally agree sometimes it’s just venting. We unfortunately have to be selective to whom we do so. I’m learning who I’m able to talk to honestly. Others and my family get my canned answer I’m fine. Mostly I cry or scream into a pillow; like a pressure cooker I relieve pressure.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you Azjackie! Usually, I am full of “canned” responses, especially for family!

  • JimmyMac
    7 months ago

    Devin another great article but I noticed you didn’t recommend open ended statements about how us MSers days are going. You’re totally right. We won’t ever find the right words to explain how MS effects each one of us individually so why try to anymore. When someone asks you with a chronic illness how you are, they already have an idea of what your answer, if truthful, is going to entail. I must admit I don’t think it’s wrong to give them any more information than they were expecting and find an, “Oh you know” or a good, “Don’t ask, nah, I’m keeping my head above water”. Neither statement is standard but neither gives away what’s really happening.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks JimmyMac! I really do believe that, unless you’ve gone through it, you really can truly understand what it’s like to have MS. That said, it’s nice to be able to vent and have someone listen sometimes, even if they don’t understand.

  • Jan
    7 months ago

    Oh, and does this site “ping” people’s email when someone replies to a reply I’ve made? I just reset a password, ventured into settings, and saw that some had replied to my replies. As in, months ago–whoops. A belated thank you.

  • Yoshitail9
    7 months ago

    I combat this by telling the person or persons “Slowing down a little”.
    I am 71 years old so I can’t ask Tom. He has cancer and seeing a thoracic surgeon today. Jim, Russ and Joe are diabetic. All from Agent Orange in Vietnam. Charlie’s wife,Debbie, just had a bone marrow transplant, my sister was just diagnosed with bladder cancer and another friends 27 year old son may not have much time because of cancer…So..I just say…slowing down.. how about you..then talk about other things.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much Yoshitail9! I normally say “oh, you know, good days and bad days”, “slowing down” is a pretty good description too!

  • Irishmar8
    7 months ago

    I don’t like to say how bad I really am either. But usually get around in a wheelchair or power chair now so people ask. My brother died a few years ago from Sgent Orange cancer was Green Beret in Vietnam. Everyone does have something I’d rather listen than talk about myself. I often try to act better than I really am. Which is bad because that’s when I fall. Fell yesterday on garage floor after riding long with my husband on our Harley Davidson trike bike. It was hot out but felt cooler on the ride plus all the bumps bouncing must have fatigued me. Once I fall I can’t get up, husband had to ask our next door neighbors who were celebrating 4th of July. I was dead heavy weight. I felt my dignity slipping away. I don’t like even having them see me how I am sometimes. Even husband wasn’t expecting my fall. Made bad decision thinking I cold walk even ten feet wig cane. I couldn’t.. I’m 60, diagnosed in 2004, I was 46. My mom had MS in 1964 I was only 7, didn’t understand now I do

  • Jan
    7 months ago

    “Fine.” Yes, my personal, quintessential four-letter word. It can work, when wielded appropriately.

    And Devin, you brought up great points about “listening.” I’ve also seen posts on LinkedIn related to that, a daily dev (no pun intended–in this case, “devotional”) related to it, and what the word really means. There is a difference between hearing and listening, between listening and responding.

    Listening with a deaf ear (my apologies to those who cannot hear) is not the same as listening to understand. Nor is listening to respond. It’s up to everyone to distinguish, to “read” the speaker and intentions.

    When a friend says that she feels bad about mentioning so-and-so issue to me (easy, in comparison), I remind that everyone’s issues are important to them and that we all need to understand perspective. Yes, many here would likely trade issues, but my point is to understand the person speaking and relate on that person’s level. Isn’t that what all humans really appreciate?

  • jdarie
    7 months ago

    Yes!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you Jan! You bring up a great point about listening vs hearing. It made me realize that I’m pretty sure MS has made me a better listener of other people’s issues over the years because I look for the same.

  • Jennifer
    7 months ago

    Great read! I can totally relate. I love that my daughter does a lot of research on the MS so she has some intellectual understanding of the difference in the fatigue. She doesn’t actually feel it like I do, but she does say yeah I was out in the Heat and it exhausted me I can’t even begin to imagine what you probably feel mom. It’s nice to have people who take the time to learn about my experience. I am learning that the only one who really has to affirm and understand how I feel is me. Sometimes that feels kind of lonely, but I’d rather do that and then do something to help myself then stay stuck in the self-pity. I need to put a time limit on that s***.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank so much Jennifer, so glad to hear that your daughter has researched the disease. I always love to say that learning about our disease is the best thing you can do for us: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/the-1-thing-you-can-do-for-someone-with-chronic-illness/

  • MargaritaMaria
    7 months ago

    Thank you for this, Devin. I agree with everything and would only add this. As a 64-old woman when I am honest about my fatigue and cog fog I often get responses from other women like, “Oh yes, I have all of that. Welcome to menopause.” It is so frustrating and often makes me really angry. It is such an insult.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing MargaritaMaria! I can imagine how awful that is to hear!

  • Dorry
    7 months ago

    I Agree. Nothing worse when someone doesn’t even HEAR what you are saying. It is a mark of wisdom to say nothing if one does not know what to say. LISTENING and UNDERSTANDING costs nothing, but TIME. You may have to choose your confidants carefully otherwise they will COMPOUND YOUR PAIN.

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    I feel really bad about the guy that said he fell out of the window I was just gonna tell him he’s not alone I have fell out of my bed about 10 times and I don’t know what’s causing it but my husband just looks at me and says hello as you get there

  • AYW68SS
    7 months ago

    Wonderful and extremely well written article! Exactly my thoughts. I have run into one more thing. Sometimes people won’t ask how I’m doing. They’ll start a conversation with “You look GREAT, you must be feeling/doing good!”. I’m not sure if they really believe what they’re saying or it’s there way of getting out of hearing the truth (whether I would want to tell them the truth or not). I answer with “Thanks, I’m good”. When I’m not fine/good and miss a day or two of work, then people want to know what’s going on with me?….I had been “doing so well/good” and I “look great”. I must just want a day off work or trying to get out of something. It’s all very frustrating.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much AYW68SS! I think so many of us have heard we “look great” over the years, it’s so incredibly frustrating to look one way, but feel the opposite.

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    I have to Laugh because if you quit laughing you quit living and they are worse things that could be wrong than Ms and we should thank the good Lord this is all we have

  • LuvMyDog
    7 months ago

    I usually enjoy reading your posts….this one I didn’t.
    If you choose to be untruthful about how you’re feeling, I guess that makes you a liar. Is that someone else’s fault?
    And by someone being honest and saying how they really feel, that diminishes you and/or your illness? As someone who spent many years studying psychology, your way of thinking isn’t sounding that good to me.

    Some of us are brutally honest. So what? That doesn’t change anything in your life, it doesn’t make your MS less important than mine or any other illness more important than yours. Does it?? And there are other illnesses that are worse than MS. Ever think of that?

    Personally, I don’t care who likes what.
    I’m not looking for someone to listen to my complaints of pain, fatigue and whatever else. What good would that do?
    I don’t care who dislikes the fact that I hate holidays, to me they’re just another day and it inconveniences me when the stores are closed or the traffic is heavier than usual.

    I was brought up to not whine or cry because it doesn’t get you anywhere.
    I was always taught that honesty is the best policy. Reality bites but….some of us prefer to live in the real world and see things as they really are and not the way we wish they could be.

    At my age and experience in this life I think there is way too much phoniness and political correctness has gone way too far and off the deep end.
    People have become overly sensitive about EVERYTHING and it’s ridiculous!

    If we have to constantly walk on eggshells when in public, fearful of offending someone about anything and everything, why speak to anyone at all?

    My standard answer to that phony standard question of, “hi, how are you doing today?” is usually, “pretty good, thanks or occasionally I will say, “not that great.” That’s my choice, and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem, I don’t require a reply.

    I don’t consider it “one-up-man-ship” if someone comes back with, they are having a bad day with back pain or the pain in their neck has been so bad the doctor suggested a neck brace….which is what transpired the other day at the grocery store.

    If you really feel that most people do not truly understand how you’re feeling and why, then why would you even want to say anything to them at all??
    That sounds like you ARE looking for attention and/or sympathy and upset if you don’t any.
    Maybe that other person mentioned their illness or problem to you because THEY are just looking for someone to listen or maybe, just being honest.

    People who do not suffer with a chronic illness will never understand what it’s like and we can’t expect them to.
    People who are incredibly healthy, for now anyways, are not quick to offer any compassion to people who are not. If you’re expecting that, you’re in for disappointment.

    If you’re looking for someone to just listen to you, to have a pair of ears ready for you to vent at, I would strongly suggest that you find a reputable, intelligent, compassionate and personable clinical psychologist.
    It’s their job and they get a fee to just sit and listen. They are not judgmental and most likely will not tell you of any pain or anguish they may be going through.

    F.Y.I., Other people do have problems in their lives too. Some choose to try and share them, some do not. I choose to listen with curiosity and speak with honesty.

  • Flowers For Algernon
    3 months ago

    You know Hoss, you and I have much in common I would imagine. That said, the individual who wrote this (and the many others here who do so) help others with taking the time to share their experiences and perspectives for others. Regardless of how one may think about a specific article/piece.

    I (and imagine they would) agree with your assertion on political correctness, and at times they would like to really let it go without a filter of social responsibility. However, consider the venue and obligation of using the platform in their context.

    But, yeah… I feel you.

  • mollyculelove
    5 months ago

    WOW…this is hands down the most scathing reply…let’s go with rant…I have ever read on any multiple sclerosis site. I generally avoid social networking because of the tone of messages like this. It’s boardering on the line of being a hateful troll and attacking the author but trying to mask it behind intellect (psychology), political correctness and some kind of personal credo, one dare not cross. Just tone it down it’s not nice and not appropriate for these sites we come here for support and Devin writes to help people…so don’t attack him for it. If you don’t like it, move on. Or find a more constructive way to contribute your thoughts.

  • Flowers For Algernon
    3 months ago

    You know Hoss, you and I have much in common I would imagine. That said, the individual who wrote this (and the many others here who do so) help others with taking the time to share their experiences and perspectives for others. Regardless of how one may think about a specific article/piece.

    I (and imagine they would) agree with your assertion on political correctness, and at times they would like to really let it go without a filter of social responsibility. However, consider the venue and obligation of using the platform in their context.

    But, yeah… I feel you.

  • LuvMyDog
    3 months ago

    I am a very straightforward person, I say exactly what I think and the majority of the time, I don’t try to sugarcoat.
    I was not attacking, merely commenting on what I read. I never apologize for words or actions. If your sensitive nature finds it difficult to read another person’s thoughts, I suggest, don’t read them and above all, don’t waste your precious time commenting on them.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi @caninemom6142. While we appreciate the lively discussion and differing opinions shared, please keep in mind it must be done in a respectful manner, per our Community Rules: https://multiplesclerosis.net/about-us/community-rules/ We want our community to be a safe place to share one’s perspectives and experiences, even if they differ from another’s. We’re all navigating this in our own way! We always encourage anyone to share their personal views, as long as it’s in a way that respects the experience of others. Thanks for understanding. Best, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks LuvMyDog, I’m not always sure you are reading the same thing as everyone else, but appreciate you reading anyway. I’m really referring to certain people who feel the need to go above and beyond whatever someone says. Of course everyone has issues, of course not everyone is trying to out do each other, but I never said this is how I feel about everyone. This is a rare situation for me, but one that apparently a lot of people encounter. I’m glad you haven’t. Regardless, I always appreciate your comments, whether you enjoyed the article or not. I always try to encourage everyone to share their thoughts because I do believe sharing our opinions and being open to the opinions of others (as I try to be) is important. I am most certainly not an expert on life (but don’t claim to be), so hearing differing perspectives is important. Again, appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Flowers For Algernon
    3 months ago

    Your thoughts and insights, as are those of your peers on this site, are deeply appreciated.

  • Dorry
    7 months ago

    Well you certainly haven’t used any WISDOM in your reply. then I suppose you don’t care. You say you have studied psychology. What type? A psychologist certainly would not talk about their own problems because it would be unethical and they would not be able to help their client. So don’t ever become a psychologist because I think you would harm your clients more by how insensitive you have replied to Devin. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. BUT WHAT AN OPINION. I am shocked to read how insensitive and uncaring you have been when I thought this site was supposed to be supportive. If one cannot say anything intelligent. Then say nothing. I read your reply to KIM in another post and you were pretty defensive when you should have been honest with her. You probably missed the point in Devin’s post. He was telling it like it is. No need to make a comparison about other illnesses. This site is for MS. Be supportive or be quiet.

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    I grew up with a brother with muscular dystrophy he never asked for anything he just wanted to have fun and be as normal as he possibly could be I think you’re saying is you seem to be very very unhappy and you need someone to cheer you up

  • Harleydog1
    7 months ago

    Worrying about psychology and sociology about that problem just live life day by day and try to make it happy

  • 7 months ago

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you! This is an amazing article! I totally get this… when I’m asked how I feel, I’m definitely inclined to stick with the norm, so my reply is almost always, “I’m okay!” Happy Fourth of July!

  • Erin Rush moderator
    7 months ago

    I am so glad you found Devin’s article helpful, CryswithMS! It’s too bad that so many people can relate to this rather annoying phenomenon! Thanks for commenting and I hope your 4th was great! Best, Erin, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member.

  • 7 months ago

    Hi Erin,

    You’re so right! Thank you, I hope yours was also! Take care,

    Crystal

  • mascha
    7 months ago

    Great article again! This I s do true and I struggle with this often. I just want a listening ear and nothing more. But even that seems impossible. Sometimes I just want to vent and share my struggles but I never expect anything in return besides just listen for a minute. It’s lonely having MS.

  • Dorry
    7 months ago

    I care! and I am so sorry you are feeling as if no one cares. MS is a lonely place to be. VENT all you like. This site should be supportive not condemning if one expresses how they feel and it is trampled on.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much mascha! Appreciate the comment!

  • CubsFan
    7 months ago

    I have a sister in law that does this non stop. I can’t even look at her when she talks about it. She goes on non stop about her problems. I’ve asked her a couple times if she wanted to trade illnesses. I try to never complain about mine. I may mention to my wife how tired I am occasionally and that’s about it.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks you CubsFan, I have a friend who does it non stop too, some people just seemed wired to do it, no matter who they talk to!

  • SueK
    7 months ago

    This issue has always bothered me, but not for the same reason. Who is really guilty of one upsmenship? A person, not knowing your condition (because you don’t talk about it) commmenting on how they feel, which for them is their reality? Or us for thinking, “How dare they! They don’t know how tough I have it!” Does MS give us the right to dismiss the discomforts of others just because we feel worse and pissy because of it? Who’s the biggest offender? My husband comes home at 7pm from a day that begins at 5am. Between commuting, walking a mile each way to the station and work, is on his feet all day in a stressful job and comes home wiped out. I caught myself uttering the typical MSer response, “You don’t know what fatigue is! My MS…..”. I stopped and realized, how arrogant of me. Just cause I struggle with MS, doesn’t negate his experience. Life is not a competition for who suffers best. Just because we live with the struggles of MS does not give us the right to be insensitive to others or paranoid that when people say anything about how they feel it is aimed to diminish us. Remember, we used to be healthy people whining about our minor aches and pain to our grandparents. They probably thought the same of us. My mother raised me with the saying, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.”

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks SueK, very great points. However, I am in no way saying that anyone who complains to me guilty of oneupmanship, that’d be an odd way of thinking. I’m really referring to specific individuals who have a need to always have it worse off (or even better off depending on the conversation), even to the point of embellishment. These people are thankfully rare, but do exist. If anything, I think when it comes to most people, I am a much better listener because of my life with MS when people have problems to gripe about. I care much more and not only listen, but really hear what they are saying, if that makes any sense. So this is most certainly not about everyone that answers me with a problem. There most certainly are some people that need to always “come out ahead” in a conversation though. My apologies for not conveying that as well as I probably could have! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, sorry about the delayed response, the summer heat has been rough!

  • LuvMyDog
    7 months ago

    Well said.

  • Lisa Schlecht
    7 months ago

    Such great points…..well said, I appreciate the food for thought

  • ckleger
    7 months ago

    Thank you so much! I was thinking the same thing as I read the article! Suffering is not a competition, and I feel like dismissing the suffering of others (even those who ALWAYS complain) further isolates me. I would rather believe the speaker really is suffering (maybe even worse than me) and allow them to vent. Love your grandma’s advice, too. 🙂

  • mascha
    7 months ago

    Ooh that MS saying I’ve caught myself trying not to say:(
    Love your mothers comment 🙂

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