As I was scrolling through social media yesterday (and during MS Awareness month, I always gain a large number of new “friends” thanks to the awareness banner on my profile picture), I noticed a new follower doing what I assume (hope), was his best to encourage folks with the disease. This person posted a status saying something along the lines of “don’t blame MS for all of your problems”. While his sentiment might have been positive, he certainly, and deservedly (in my opinion), received quite the backlash from others. This scenario highlights not only the snowflake nature of the disease, but the gap that often exists between those who’ve had the disease for a while and those who haven’t.
After the first decade
I don’t think we can say it enough, everyone with Multiple Sclerosis has a different course and experience with their disease. If you are still running marathons, well that’s great, there are others who’ve had it for the same or less time than you who are wheelchair bound. There are many others in your same position who did great in their first decade or so with the disease, until it caught up with them (I was still running marathons in my first ten years too). We get it, MS doesn’t have you, but for many people, it does have them, and it isn’t their fault. It has nothing to do with how positive they are. The disease really can take a lot from you, regardless of how motivated you are.
It’s okay to be angry at the disease
People began to chime in on the person’s comment, pointing all of this out to him. Many chimed in with very similar stories to mine. Like them, I certainly don’t blame all of my problems on Multiple Sclerosis, but, well, it did end my career and my marriage. It’s also responsible for me being in a lot of pain, and a host of other issues. There are some rather large and legitimate issues in my life that I can blame on MS. I’ve been positive, I’ve tried the diets, the different medications, believe me, I’ve done everything possible in the nearly two decades since I was diagnosed. I’m also not paying for poor habits prior to my diagnosis, I was a collegiate athlete in the best shape of my life when I was struck down with the disease. It’s not my fault, it’s no one’s fault. The only enemy here is the disease. I think it’s OK to blame the disease, it’s OK to be angry at the disease. You can’t let that anger consume you and you need to keep fighting, but it’s OK to admit that things might be different without it.
It’s not because of our attitudes
That is the problem when people make comments about not blaming MS or not being positive enough or any of the other attempts at being motivational. For many people who have had a rough go of it, motivational type messages can feel like a real slap in the face. It’s not because of our attitudes, it’s because we’ve been through hell. There is a scene in the movie The Deer Hunter where the three guys that are about to go off to Vietnam encounter a veteran who is home visiting from the war. While they are all gung-ho and excited when talking to him, he is glazed over and almost in shock about everything he’s seen. While rewatching this classic recently, this scene made me think of this exact scenario between the different groups of people battling MS. That veteran wasn’t glazed over and unreceptive to the three new recruits because he wasn’t patriotic or positive enough, he’d just seen a lot of sh*t. A lot like many of us who’ve fought this disease for a while.
Thanks for reading!
Do you blame MS? Click question to answer.