Someone Has It Worse

“Someone has it worse”; I’ve uttered those words to myself and others more times than I can count. It’s my go-to method I use to not only push attention away from myself but to minimize the struggle I go through on a daily basis as I fight Multiple Sclerosis. It’s something I’ve done, literally, from the first day of my diagnosis. I’m certainly not alone in this behavior, as I hear it countless times a week when talking with others who battle this disease. As common as this line of thinking is, it can be pretty detrimental to your well-being.

A way to deflect reality

As I said, from day one, I’ve been uttering this. After the doctor explained the diagnosis to me over the phone, I thanked him, hung up, and then had to tell my parents. They were, understandably, devastated. I hugged them both and said,” it could be worse”, and rattled off a list of other conditions that I thought were probably worse than MS. It feels like such a natural way to deflect reality, to soften the blow. At that moment, I needed to say it as much for me as for them. I’ve kept on saying it, too. It’s nearly been two decades since that day and I still find myself uttering that phrase and explaining how there are people in way worse shape than me.

The unexpected repercussions of this mindset

While it’s true that yes, there are people that have it worse than me, the act of constantly minimizing my own struggle has had some unexpected repercussions. Over the many years of proclaiming that others have it worse, I’ve been trying to convince myself that what I go through isn’t that bad. That classic, “I just need to suck it up” feeling isn’t really very helpful. In fact, having this mindset for so long has really only made my struggle more painful. By constantly minimizing my struggle, I’ve become angry at myself when I’m not feeling well. Bad days become exponentially worse, because instead of only dealing with the tough symptoms of MS, I now have this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I’m weak for suffering so much. That I should be stronger than I am.

Getting down on ourselves

Getting down on myself thinking I should be stronger when I can barely walk? When I’m in tremendous pain? When my legs are spasming uncontrollably? When I’m so fatigued I can’t move? When I can’t see because my vision is blurry? That’s ridiculous! Of course, there are people that are worse off than me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going through some serious shi...stuff, some serious stuff. Just because something is worse doesn’t mean what we are dealing with isn’t also very bad. I think it’s way too easy to get down on ourselves and fail to acknowledge that what we are going through is also no picnic.

Giving ourselves a little credit

Sure, living with MS is not the worst thing in the world, no matter what you have, there is always something worse. That said, it’s still not the greatest thing in the world. It’s still a struggle, for many of us, every day is a fight. Instead of trying to minimize that, I think we need to be proud of it. I am proud of it, because, you know what? Living with this disease isn’t easy, it sucks. Not everyone is cut out to live with this disease. I’ll even go as far as saying that this disease and everything I’ve gone through with it, has made me stronger, it’s made me tougher. It’s done all that by being hard, being tough, and not being easy. All of us that suffer through this disease deserve to give ourselves a little credit. We need to acknowledge that, yeah, this disease sucks, and we go through some tough times.

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