Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Has My Disease Made Me Insensitive?

Has My Disease Made Me Insensitive?

Battling a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis can be unpleasant. We talk often about the symptoms: the pain, fatigue, numbness, weakness, cognitive dysfunction, depression, etc. This list of possible symptoms is pretty long. While I’m not complaining about all of these issues, I will say, it’s not always the most pleasant life. One result of that life is that I think it’s made me a bit more unsympathetic to the problems of others. I’ve noticed this a few times recently and it made me wonder, “Has my disease made me more insensitive to the needs of others?”

Less sensitive to others’ everyday issues

Now, I’m not saying I’m a monster. I’m not saying I don’t have sympathy for people that have real problems. That said, I most certainly am less sensitive to other people’s everyday issues. Oh, you had a bad day at work? Well, I fell trying to go to the bathroom. You’re tired? Whoa, trust me, you don’t even know what tired is (I’m pretty sure that’s an especially grating one for people with MS to hear). Oh, you forget things too? Do you forget them enough to be forced from working? Try again, it’s not the same. Your back hurts from standing too much? Dude, don’t even with that one. I think you get the picture. The everyday problems of most people can start to seem like trite inconveniences to me.

I don’t want to think like this

I don’t want to think like this and I most certainly don’t think like this all the time. I want to be sensitive to everyone. After all, you can never really understand what something is like to someone else. If you aren’t in their shoes, you really can’t judge them. That’s something those with MS often say to others, but here I am with that scenario reversed. Even recognizing that, it’s pretty hard to hear others complain about issues that you sometimes wish you could have. Rough day at work? Ugh, I’d love to be able to work again. Many of us would.

Everyone’s problems are real to them

The thing about life though, is that someone always has it worse and someone always has it better. I’m sure I’ve written many articles talking about particular symptoms and how hard they are for me, and there are people that read them and think, “Oh please, suck it up buttercup, that is not nearly as bad as I have it.” The cycle goes on and on. So I’m trying to do a bit better and recognize that I can be a little insensitive to people because of my own problems. I can marginalize people’s issues, even if it’s just in my own head, and I want to be better than that. The fact that I even used the phrase “real problems” in a paragraph above is a bad sign to me. Everyone’s problems are real to them, no matter what we are going through.

This is a short one from me, but I feel it’s an interesting topic and can’t wait to hear what other people think. Am I just a horrible person or do you ever get a little insensitive to others because of your illness? I have a feeling it’s not just me. Either way, I’m hoping to do better!

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

  • msisme12
    2 years ago

    Devin, I am sitting here reading a few of your articles and I feel like I am listening to something that I myself would write. This disease is hard to live with and I think part of the reasons is that our isolation makes us think about it all the time. And then when we are with others, we talk about the things that have been going through our heads. Do they want to hear this? Probably not! But after being alone, that’s all I can think about. It is aggravating and it adds to my depression.
    I’m not alone in my life. I have an amazing husband and 2 adult children. All work and sometimes just don’t want to listen to me. Or is that what I feel? My daughter works in retail, so her hours are varied. She has a boyfriend that takes up time or she spends her time in her room. My son recently started his first full time job and comes home exhausted. The last time my husband went into the office, I fell in the kitchen. It took me over an hour to get to the phone to call my husband and over another hour to drag myself up into a chair. Since then, he has worked from home. I feel safer with him here and the lack of traveling to work is great for him. He had never explained this to his boss until today when he asked him when he was coming to the office. He told him the story and his boss was empathetic and understanding. I of course starting crying, feeling guilty. My husband held my hand and said all was ok. I never expected to be in a situation like this, but here I am. I can’t write anymore, my hands are going numb. Keep writing, I love reading your stuff. I am done for tonight. Thanks for your words! Linda from NY

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much Linda, I very much appreciate you taking the time to share you thoughts and your story. Our disease is a lonely one, but I hope that you can always come here and remember that you aren’t alone in this battle.

  • freedom
    2 years ago

    I can relate to this very well. I really hate the oh… I lose things too!!! But like you stated they’re still able to work. I feel myself at times becoming jaded. I recently have started, and I do mean recently practicing gratitude. I’m no expert but I am feeling kinder to myself and others. I hope this helps me to get out of my head and not worry so much about everything that MS has taken from me. Thanks for your candor and articles.

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I love your new practice of gratitude! Maybe it would help me as well with my attitude. I guess taking a deep breath and smiling when others are talking will go a long way.

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    Is it that we are insensitive or is it we know others will overcome their tiredness eventually but we won’t? Their tired legs from standing all day will eventually recover but we know ours won’t. and on and on….

    I try not to be too jaded. I know others have problems I just feel so overwhelmed with my own that I forget my manners or to be courteous or whatever you want to call it. I hope people understand but I don’t think they do. I don’t know the answers all I have is questions.

  • joannmaxwell
    2 years ago

    Again, Devin, you speak straight to my heart! I find myself doing the exact same thing! I really have to watch myself when I want to make a comment. I’ve learned I have to pick my battles. Some are just not worth it!

  • littleturtle
    2 years ago

    You are not alone and I appreciate your candid way of admitting it.
    I don’t like complaining but I had to start in order for my partner to realize what was going on and why I looked unhappy. Hearing others complain about trivial stuff, like a headache that will go away, a cold that will go away, a broken arm that will heal…I feel for them but am not near as sensitive as I use to be.
    It is more then what I go through though, it is what I have experienced and how I have been treated. It is also because of the invisible problems others cannot see.
    I am to that point. I am not happy about how I feel but I am not ashamed either. I just try not to be too incentive.

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I haven’t got to that point yet but I can see how that can happen. I still find myself feeling sorry for people that are ill and thinking they are so much worse than me. Potter

  • Pammie
    2 years ago

    It’s not just you. It is really hard to hear other people talk about how bad they feel with the “everyday” aches and pains when you can’t even describe to your closest friends and family how bad the pain really is!!! I have a hard time even relating to my doctor how much pain I am in due to MS. There have been so many people in the world that have abused pain medication in the past so it makes it difficult for the people who really need it to get help. Sorry..I got off subject. I try to be nice to others I meet. You never know what they are going thru just like they don’t know what I am going thru. After 3 years being diagnosed with MS I thought it would get easier. Does it ever???

  • J R
    2 years ago

    I am insensitive. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Thank you for the article.

    My last fortune cookie read:

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their battle too”.

  • messeeone
    2 years ago

    After 24 years with this disease, I think I can honestly say it gets easier to let the sensitivity go–mostly!
    As I get older, I find it easier to focus on my blessings and abilities. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still get to me a little when people complain about how tired they are or how much they hate their job. For me, it has helped to gently and non-judgementally to remind them of how lucky they are. It’s taken a long time and many supportive people to help me get here! Hang in there!

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi bandmom, thanks so much for sharing your kind words of support and wisdom. We’re glad you’re here! – Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • Lauren
    2 years ago

    I go through this all the time. Sometimes I gotta catch myself. I just try to warn people of this and apologize in advance. This mostly happens when I meet new people

  • Polifax
    2 years ago

    I do that also. Even to loved ones. Sometimes I actually resent my husband if he complains of pain or discomfort. I don’t know if this is aggravated maybe because our illness is often invisible to others..so they can’t visually see or understand that we are hurting. Or I’m too stoic especially with my husband because 95% of the time I still don’t want him to see me as “sick” or a “burden”.. Recently he did said to me after asking me to tend to him ( back spasm)He didn’t need a competition of pain scales, he really just wanted some attention and to feel cared for…. and we do all deserve that.

  • dmullikin
    2 years ago

    I feel the same way with my husband. If he complains about an ache, pain or stress -I don’t feel like I’m very compassionate. In my own head, I’m thinking “he doesn’t know what pain is” & often I fail to communicate to him how bad I really feel.

  • Monk
    2 years ago

    No you are not a horrible person for being a little insensitive, just an imperfect wonderful human being like the rest of us. I like that you can admit it. Makes it easier for the rest of us to acknowledge our many shortcomings and recognize we are still good and caring people.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Monk, thanks for sharing your wise words. That’s what makes this community so awesome! As far as imperfection – I have a mantra 🙂 I'm Perfect Thanks for being part of the community! -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • Poll