Do I Deserve It?

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

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (16)
  • tfs
    1 year ago

    I just want to thank you for your honesty. I don’t ever want to swat you by the way! Maybe give you a well deserved hug. I must admit this progressive disease has been a huge opportunity for spiritual growth and reflection. It is really tough. Our buttons get pushed and we get to pay attention or push the feelings away, react or accept, shame ourselves and resent others. All in one day LOL Hugs and love. You know I love to read your posts. You have so much to give and your honesty and insight are so very welcome.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you tfs! Always appreciate you comments!!!

  • Theresa
    1 year ago

    Devin – you rock. Seriously one of my favorite (if not THE favorite,) contributors. You are REAL. You don’t sugar coat what we all know doesn’t taste so sweet. I blame myself nearly every day for this insidious MonSter. Surely, some act against nature or against some deity has led to this punishment. And I suspect you are right about why we mentally berate (even further punish) ourselves – it is easier. We know the name of this MonSter, in whichever form(s) it might take – but we don’t know the name of the sin that created it. So we blame ourselves. And it sounds so counterintuitive to think or say it – but it IS easier. Maybe it allows us to wear a veil of control that we lost or never had. At least if we are to blame – we controlled WHY it happened and it isn’t just something “that happens”. It is laughable to think we control much of anything in our lives…..but sometimes it is easier. And who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then?

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks SO much Theresa!

  • DeniseC
    1 year ago

    Yeah the comments were for Devin but do agree with you LuvMyDog.

    Got a grant from the MS society to have my house cleaned every fortnight for several months. Such a win as it takes almost an hour to put the fitted sheet on the bed as I mince around on my walking frame.

    Denise

  • DeniseC
    1 year ago

    The meds suppress your immune system so you end up getting everything. I hear you LuvMyDog. The tossing and turning at night, the spasticity I get at the moment, the need to avoid the heat of the day. On Tuesday I spontaneously fell over once again, this time in the disabled toilet, how novel! I have one friend that says to me “there is always someone worse off than you”. Ah if only she knew my world and to walk in my shoes.

    One thing that has really helped me get outside my headspace has been to do online volunteer work.

    Rest assured You don’t deserve it LuvMyDog but this site is definitely a safe place to get stuff of our chests. Thank you for reminding me that I am not in this journey alone.

  • LuvMyDog
    1 year ago

    I’m glad you’re not a friend or a relative, someone sitting in front of me, because I’d have to raise my voice, maybe swat you in the head!! Do we deserve MS? Really??? What a thought. Do you see a psychologist on a regular basis? If not, please do so. Decent people who have lived their lives in a good and respectful manner, do NOT deserve bad crap of any kind!! But it seems to me anyway that the worst of people rarely have anything happen to them and the nice people are always the ones to suffer. Why is that? Who knows. But I don’t believe it’s because we did anything horrible and should be punished for. I was taught from the time I was a child that we have to look at things as they really are and not how we’d like them to be. In other words, always be realistic about everyone and everything in life. Use common sense if you possess it….and not everyone does.

    Do I feel sorry for myself? Yup, a good deal of the time. At this point in life I’d love to win the lottery for a million dollars to be able to live a much less stressful life as far as money is concerned….and money is always a big concern.
    Money would allow me to be debt free.
    Money would allow me to fix, repair and modify my old house and make daily life a lot easier.
    I’d love to be able to live in a nicer, quieter neighborhood as I HATE the sound of kids yelling and engines revving.
    I’d love being able to get up in the morning and do all the chores I USED TO be able to do and have a nice, neat, clean house again.

    But I sure as he** don’t think I’m stuck with MS or my miserable unhappy life because I committed a crime or was mean to someone or whatever.
    The truth be told, it’s either the luck of the draw or maybe even heredity. My grandmother suffered with RA, another auto-immune disease and who knows who else in my long lost background, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents and further back, if they too suffered with something that they passed on to future generations.
    We are at the mercy of “who” we came from, going back generations, centuries.
    We didn’t ask to be born and we had no say as to who we were born to.

    I do not waste time thinking I did something wrong to deserve MS or my heart problems or my nearsightedness or for that matter, why I’m not 6 ft. tall.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    LuvMyDog, it seems as though maybe you didn’t read the entire piece, because despite the title, it really is about how people don’t deserve it. I’m very sorry for anyone who feels they do, and sees some of your comments. This is a very common thought for people battling a chronic illness. The very point of this piece is to explore and remind people that they do not deserve what happens to them. I very much hope that no one feels even worse for feeling that way because of some of your comments. I encourage everyone to read the entire post.

  • cbeach87
    1 year ago

    LuvMyDog
    I can relate to most of your reply to Devon, but not your opening sentences. Why would you open with “I’m glad you’re not a friend or a relative, someone sitting in front of me, because I’d have to raise my voice, maybe swat you in the head!! Do we deserve MS? Really??? What a thought. Do you see a psychologist on a regular basis? If not, please do so.” This is disrespectful and uncalled for. We are hear to support each other, not to demean and chastise.

  • CatDancer
    1 year ago

    I know… I wonder about this as well and frequently ask myself, my providers, friends, family, “did I do something to cause this?” I logically try to figure it out, doing nerdy things by researching evidence based medicine! In reality it’s randomness.
    I actually even get upset when I see my friends or people I know, treat their bodies ldisrespectfully and be totally fine.
    You’re point is 100% valid and true. We don’t deserve what we get but we can choose what we believe. I’m not exactly sure what I believe, but I know that we give every ounce of our strength everyday and that’s that inherent bravery.

  • DeniseC
    1 year ago

    Thanks Cat…love the evidence based research too. Funny…my friends think that my favourite thing to do is art but it actually reading a good clinical paper.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much CatDancer! That was a beautiful comment from start to finish!

  • CatDancer
    1 year ago

    Absolutely! Thanks Devin. I’m thankful I can still write, even though sometimes I wonder if I’m making sense.
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    -Leigh

  • ElizabethS
    1 year ago

    One of my VERY pet peeves is the expression “Everything happens for a reason.” I guess if you believe in predetermination, that may be true. I mean, yes, things happen for reasons – nothing cosmic, no G-d pointing his/her finger bellowing “YOU,” — whether randomly or for some kind of punishment for some horrible deed long forgotten.MS and other diseases happen for a reason — bodies get messed up! And there are a bunch of reasons for MS and no one knows exactly why. I have yet to have the deserving it test.

    I have lived to regret some of my life choices, but I haven’t done anything that I could possibly correlate to deserving this experience. And those who care about me certainly haven’t done anything. They have to deal with it, also. Sometimes I think maybe thinking that way can (unconsciously, anyway )be at least A REASON where there is none — if I did something, maybe I can fix it. Would be nice to have that much control where I have none. I believe this idea regarding reason firmly; unfortunately, I think I have left carnage in my wake with all the heads I’ve bitten off whenever they’ve used that expression! Sometimes the things that people that don’t deal with chronic illness say are so glib. I’m not always patient. After 23 years of MS, however, I reserve the right to be annoyed by glibness! I deserve it. And I have a reason to : )

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you @ElizabethS! As you may have surmised, that expression can be a pet peeve of mine as well. Much of the time, there simply is no reason and that’s maddening to most people. Even myself at times.

  • CatDancer
    1 year ago

    Yes, it’s that underlying feeling: how can I fix this! If I did something wrong then surely I can fix it.

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