Things to Remember if You Feel Like a Burden
Last updated: March 2023
A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can elicit a wide range of fears and emotions. From that very first day when I was diagnosed through today, one of these concerns has always been in the back of my head: becoming a burden on those around me. As time and my illness progress, the prospect of relying on others to the point that it becomes an inconvenience to them routinely keeps me up at night.
Accepting that I need help
While it isn’t easy, I accept the fact that I sometimes need help. It’s never a pleasant feeling, knowing that I need to rely on someone else to live, but that’s where I’m at in life. I prefer to think that many of the things I need assistance with, I could likely handle on my own. However, doing so would be more difficult for me than for someone else, so it’s better to take the help and put my energy elsewhere.
So for me, getting help with something isn’t because I could never do it, but because it would impede me from doing other tasks. That’s the real issue that many with MS face. It’s not that any particular task is impossible, it’s that each of those tasks takes so much more from us than it would from other people. Everything adds up when you live with MS, so if I start the day super productive, I will probably be useless come late afternoon.
When asking for help feels like a burden
I often look for help in ways where I can feel like I am not putting anyone else out. “Oh, you are running to the store, can you please pick up something for me?” In doing this, I try my hardest to accept help but to make sure I don’t feel like I am inconveniencing others. No matter how happy someone is to help me out, the moment I start feeling like I am putting them out, is the moment I start feeling like a burden. I start to feel like I can’t exist on my own anymore, which is sadly the truth, no matter how I want to spin things and say “Oh, I could do it if I wanted to." I walk a very fine line in my head when it comes to feeling like a burden.
I try to give back
One thing that helps me not feel like a burden is to be able to give back to others. I do require help from others to exist and I know I can’t ever directly even things up with them, so I do my best to pay things forward whenever and wherever I can. My body doesn’t let me help people in the same ways they can help me, but I still find ways to give back to the world (I try to anyway) and that is something that helps prevent me from feeling like a burden. I’m probably not going to carry groceries for anyone, but I’m there for them in other ways.
You are not the burden, your disease is
I read a quote somewhere that goes along the lines of “you are not the burden, you have a burden”. I think there is a lot of truth in that. We are not the burden, our disease is, and those assisting us are helping us to carry our burden. Sometimes this illness is too hard to carry on our own, so others come in and help. When you feel like you are inconveniencing someone who is helping you, remember that it is the disease doing that, not you. You shouldn’t expect to have to carry the burden of MS alone. I’m not religious, but I heard a famous story once about a guy with a cross, and even he had help with it along the way. Accepting and needing help doesn’t say anything about you, but it does say a lot about the people that help you and that’s what’s important to remember. It’s not really about you, it’s about them.
Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
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