A woman lays in bed with the sun shining through the blinds, she holds her phone to her chest, the case says "You Are Enough" on it

Has MS Made Me Selfish?

I have never been so unreasonable as to be inconsiderate of the needs or desires of others. A person who cares only and chiefly for my own wants, yet no one else's. An individual who could be characterized as selfish. I've always been generous and concerned about the wellbeing of others. Wanting the best and most for myself and all deserving folks.

And then I had a conversation one day and was told something that brought me to a serious pause and made me ponder, "has MS made me selfish?" Has it taken so much from me that I want it all back or help with my needs both so badly that I disregard the care or concern of others? Thereby making me selfish in my new normal?

"I hear a lot of 'I want...'"

I was having a conversation with someone at a rather vulnerable period in my life several months ago. My guard was down, and I was speaking very candidly and transparently with this person. Generally, I don't shy away from speaking my mind relative to my thoughts about challenges and experiences with MS. However, I do recognize the adage 'everything isn't for everybody,' and this probably would be one of those persons.

But.. like I said, it was a rather vulnerable period and my guard was down. At any rate, throughout the conversation about being unhappy with my lack of independence, I would mention things I desired such as: I wanted to be able to be cleaned up daily, I wanted to eat by a certain time, I wanted my house kept tidy, I wanted to not feel guilty asking to use the bathroom too early, too late or too often.

The response to my vent? "I hear a lot of 'I want,' which sounds a bit selfish to me. You don't think so?" Needless to say, I was quite taken aback. Am I selfish for wanting – needing – help with activities of daily living like hygiene, grooming, toileting, meal prep? Basic needs, humane rights? For wanting to care for myself like the days of old as opposed to being dependent on someone else to do things for me?

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Taking care of myself is not selfish

I saw a quote by Mandy Hale (blogger turned best-selling New York Times author) that said, "It's not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It's necessary." She's right.

The answer is no. I am not selfish for wanting my essential needs met that I have lost the ability to do independently because this MonSter uninvitingly entered my life. It didn't happen right away, but over the course of my MS years, I have lost so much of my fine and gross motor skill function that I need primary or total assistance with self care. But aside from this, I don't ask for much and am content to do what I can do. And what I want for my well-being, I want for others as well.

Some of this I shared with my fellow conversationalist, to which he seemed to be receptive. I also recognized that it is blatantly apparent that awareness is crucial, key, and necessary to understand our plight. Otherwise, we'll have many more examples of what I refer to as, "what NOT to say to someone with a chronic illness, disability, or handicap."

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