Do I Deserve It?

Last updated: May 2018

Battling a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis can produce a varied amount of questions. Will I lose my job? Will I be in a wheelchair? How will I support myself? How did I get this? Will I die? When I’m not feeling great, there’s one question in particular that I find myself asking: Do I deserve this? I’ve looked around and haven’t seen a lot of other people discussing this. Perhaps I’m alone in asking myself this question or perhaps it’s embarrassing and left to the private thoughts we have in our worst moments. If you’ve read some of my other writing, you probably know, I’m not great at leaving my private thoughts private.

What did I do?

You may be wondering, how can I think I deserve an incurable disease like MS?  A disease that has stolen my career, my marriage, and caused an assortment of other problems.  Am I some sort of serial killer?  Nope. Have I committed a bunch of remorseless criminal acts?  Not at all.  I’ll say that it sure feels like it sometimes though. Sometimes when I’m feeling awful, I’ll rack my brain and try to think of something awful that I did. Then when I can’t think of anything, I’ll blame it on the memory problems MS causes. Surely there must be something I’ve done that I simply can’t remember. I’ve even asked friends, have I done anything super bad?  Am I just an awful person?  They all say no (and of course my mind will then doubt them).

A rough way of thinking

This way of thinking isn’t pleasant. I admit, it’s even left me thinking that maybe I am an awful person. Maybe I’m just extra awful because I don’t even realize it. Maybe I do deserve this disease and everything that comes along with it. When left to my own thoughts for too long, I end up 100% convincing myself of that. Then I feel depressed, which stresses me out, which makes my body feel bad. Then I start the whole process of wondering if I deserve it all from the beginning again.

I’m not proud that I think this way. I’m sure some of it has to do with depression and the bouts of mood swings that I so often encounter. It doesn’t always feel that way though, sometimes I feel like it’s a legitimate question.  I’m not even a religious person, but, at times, even I can’t help but think there at least some sort of cosmic or karmic justice at work.  It’s a terrible line of thinking too. It’s a black hole that I can just keep getting sucked into unless I immediately try to dismiss it. How do you dismiss it though?  Especially when we don’t even truly understand what causes it? Our immune system kicks into overdrive and attacks our own body.  What a vicious sentence we get dealt.  We didn’t get exposed to something (that anyone knows of), we didn’t skip a vaccine, we didn’t act dangerously. Sure, another illness could trigger it, but we still don’t know the cause. It’s no wonder that I can get sucked into thinking that it happened because I deserve it.  Think about it enough, and it becomes the only real answer, to me anyway.

It’s about what you will do, not what you did

The thing is though, I don’t deserve it (and honestly, that’s a landmark thing for me to write that, now I just really have to learn to believe it). You don’t deserve it either. No one deserves to have a chronic illness. The truth of the matter is that sometimes things like this just happen.  They can happen to anyone and trying to figure out why will drive you crazy. I admit that sometimes, it’s a lot easier for me to think that I did something to deserve this disease. Having something to blame, even if it’s myself, seems easier than the truth of “it just happens”. I actually get a strange comfort in thinking I did something and I’m just paying the price. Blaming ourselves is sometimes the easiest path in a hard journey. But I’ll say it one more time, you don’t deserve this!  At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter why you have this disease.  What matters is how you adapt to it. How you pick your life up and move on as best you can. It’s not about the cause, it’s about the effect. If the effect is that you work hard and battle the disease to the best of your abilities, then the cause will never matter.

Thanks for reading
- Devin

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