No Sympathy for You

That title sounds really rude, doesn’t it? Oh well, I’m a blunt person and don’t really have a ‘filter’ when it comes to speaking my mind but I’m sure most of you are used to this.

For the record, this article title has NOTHING to do about those with MS or any other chronic illness, I just wanted to get that out there in the beginning, so that there wasn’t any confusion and so people didn’t get mad at me without knowing what I’m actually meaning…

So what do I mean? Well, I’m not sure if everyone has experienced this or gets as aggravated as I do at times… but I’m talking about the people who complain about the most ‘common’ things and want attention about it.

So for instance, I had a conversation with someone I had met very recently… and it was a well-known thing that I have MS. She had even asked me about it, because I was wearing a t-shirt about it. Anyways, she had confirmed that I do in fact have MS, she like started spilling her story to me about her ‘pain’, etc. Okay, I can understand that.

However, my response was “Yeah, that sucks.” Because I mean I just met the girl, I don’t know her all that well… what am I supposed to say? Did she feel like since I have MS that she felt like we ‘related’ on the pain subject? I have no idea… but it was the most annoying thing to me at the time. Like why does this person want my sympathy? It’s not like she doesn’t get it from her family and friends from what she said, but it was like she was trying to make it seem like her pain and my pain, or someone with MS, are one in the same. And that’s a big fat NEGATIVE.

I’m not at all trying to be rude by this either, just so you know. But sometimes I’m just thinking to myself when I encounter someone like I just described in different scenarios, I’m just thinking… “Cry Me A River.” Is that mean, yes it kind of is, but it’s not like I can stop my head from thinking the comment.

I can totally understand when someone is hurt, and the pain they go through. It’s not fun at all. But you know those people who over exaggerate the issue. I mean, they just have like this ‘sign’ that tells me they are over exaggerating more for attention that for anything else. Like, who do you think you are?

There are people, like myself, who have to deal with constant pain and horrible symptoms on a daily basis, for whatever the reason behind it… and then we have people out there that are trying to make things up to be “one of us”. This is not the kind of crowd you want to belong to honey.

Even when someone says that they have a horrible headache and feel like crap, maybe they have the cold or flu or something… “I’m sorry, I hope you feel better soon.” But I’m not going to act as if you’re fragile. I for one dealt with feeling like that on a constant basis when I was on an Interferon, which I’m sure many of you can relate to.

Is it just me that sits here and thinks, “What’s the big friggin’ deal?!” Maybe it is, I don’t know… but I just had to get this out there. I don’t wish what I go through onto my worst enemy and then there are people out there trying to gain attention and pity over their temporary state?

Sorry if I’m not going to cater to that one sweetie… but when I’ve become accustomed to the pain and all the other symptoms I deal with, I really don’t have a high tolerance for the people who complain about the most trivial things ever.

“Why?” Well that’s easy for me to answer. Because the people who are complaining about their temporary pain, sickness, etc. to a point of “okay shut up already”… it’s like a slap in the face. “Why?” Because those with MS, like myself and many others with illnesses that have no cure… we don’t ‘get over’ the symptoms and go on about our happy way. We deal with this in every day life… 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year long.

So… No, I don’t have any sympathy for the people who try and use their pain and/or being sick to get attention. It’s unbelievable that people actually do this, but sadly they do. Get up, put on your big girl/boy pants, and get over yourself.

Yes, I live with my MS symptoms on a daily basis; do I want attention because of it? NO! Do I want special treatment? NO! I want to live my life the best way I can. I don’t want my MS to be the topic of conversation all the time. I don’t want people to put me into a category of “the MS girl” (in a bad way). I don’t mind being “the MS girl” – if it’s referring to how I fight against MS, how I take part in the MS community and how I’m not just laying down and giving up. I’m living my life the way I want to.

Life is unpredictable. Life isn’t always fair. But we have to deal with it, and keep LIVING.

Anyways, this is for all the people who try and ‘gain’ something by disrespecting those who actually live with the things they are just making up or over exaggerating for attention. You will not receive my pity and or sympathy for how you’re ‘feeling’… But you will receive some sort of pity for your behavior.

Now that I have that off my chest – I hope I’m not alone on how I feel, because I will feel like a really mean and shallow person and that’s not how I want to be portrayed. So know that by reading this, it isn’t to offend anyone who is actually experiencing the things they complain about.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

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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

View Comments (26)
  • esme2288
    2 years ago

    Judging from your picture, Ashley, you are quite young. In 20 years or so you might understand why people with MS seek attention. It is not, as you seem to have assumed, because we are self-pitying whiners, not because we want sympathy. It’s because we need help and sometimes our invisible symptoms are embarrassing. MS tends to exacerbate after a period of relative consistency. Cognitive issues pop up, suddenly we can’t speak clearly, can’t focus, can’t remember. We’re slow at everything we do, and with no outward symptoms we endure a lot of stares, comments, humiliation.

    Once in a grocery store my list didn’t make any sense to me, I couldn’t find anything I was looking for, I was talking to myself so I could remember what I needed to get “bread, rice, tomatoes,” over and over, and it seemed that everybody I knew was in there watching me. Just watching. When I heard the boy say to his friend, “Did you see the crazy lady?” I broke down in tears. I couldn’t even figure out to leave, so I just sat on the floor and cried. The aisle cleared and after about 10 minutes a manager came over. His wife had early Alzheimer’s, and he understood. He took me to his office and let me sit there while he checked out my groceries – on the house – and added a bouquet of flowers. Then he came back to get me, and he walked me and my groceries out to my car. It was the nicest thing anybody ever did for me.

    Maybe you could try that approach. When somebody complains, offer to help.

  • Jessica Petroff
    4 years ago

    “google” not “tootle”…..hahaha! I think I just make up my own language sometimes. MS brain, what else can I say?

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    HAHAH! omg that’s awesome. We have our own “Lingo” at times – it’s all good.

  • Jessica Petroff
    4 years ago

    Yikes Ash, you’ve had your share of tongue lashings for this post…or should I say keyboard typing lash? I think most are taking this post out of context. As a fellow MSer and one who deals with the same kind of pain you do, I totally get your point all too well.

    I have family members who are like this and one that is…you ready?…..”jealous” of my MS. This person has a new medical issue every week and sometimes more than one a week. It’s like they sit on the Internet all day and tootle symptoms and oh my gosh I have that disease or illness and will get angry if a physician doesn’t agree with them.

    I so get it and see your point and do not think you’re being mean or judgemental. We all deal with anger, emotional issues, depression and cognitive problems. This is Ashley’s way of expressing her anger and frustrations in a “safe” place. By attacking her for feeling the way she does after she has already explained that she personally knows these people or this one particular person is known for a fact to over exaggerate their illness/pain in order to gain attention is being judgemental of her and her feelings and not being supportive.

    Remember if you don’t like her post or blog writings then don’t read them and move on. We are all here for support and if you can’t give that, then please don’t comment.

    Keep on writing girl….I love them all and totally get where you’re coming from. Vent away so I don’t have to ;-)!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Aw thank you! That made my day reading this. I was going through all the comments and replying, and I just felt like I wasn’t being COMPLETELY heard…

    I’m not a mean person… well I CAN be, but I’m not like that, just because.

    It’s the people who are attention seeking, and making things up… that really bother me. How do I know they are making things up? Because in one case, the one I was mainly venting about in my post, her husband TOLD me she was doing it for attention, and that she is perfectly fine. That was also backed up by her children.

    She basically gave herself her own diagnosis for attention and that’s not okay to me. It’s disrespectful to the people who actually DO suffer from what she is faking.

    Dr. Google (TOOTLE lol) makes people things they can diagnose themselves based off of a symptom checker. If I did that, it would probably tell me to go to the hospital or something.

    But thank you for fully understanding where I was coming from. I didn’t realize I was going to have people take it the way it was NOT intended for.

  • pattic
    4 years ago

    This may be a little off topic but it was the first thing I thought of when I saw the title “No Sympathy for You”…I was using the facilities in a well known chain bookstore and came out of the handicapped stall (leg weakness and all that…) and this woman said to me, “great we’ve been waiting for you and you’re not even handicapped!” She was pushing another woman in a wheelchair, thus the we. Immediately I felt embarrassed, then I was MAD! I had just as much need to use that stall as the person with her. I really wanted to lay into her, but took the high road instead.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m glad you took the high road. I can’t say I’ve done the same in the past. I try to brush it off as much as I can, but sometimes my brain to mouth filter just doesn’t work when it needs to. lol

  • Mighty Strong
    4 years ago

    I can relate to the article but have different personal twist that it is more about me than the other person. I find when I feel impatient with another’s expression of their experience, my reaction of impatience is an invitation for self reflection. By no means have I attained any measure of perfection and continue daily to attempt to practice patience, compassion and understanding just like a practice living as well with MS. I do struggle at times, with others knowing I have MS and somehow there is an assumption that I want to hear about others ills or that I will somehow magically understand or relate. I refrain from getting into the my DX date vs your DX date that many people need to engage in. I try not to validate that strategy in others also and encourage supportive dialogue when it’s welcomed. But if a person needs to have a bit of a pity party, well I get that. I’ve had a few! I’m just so grateful that I’ve been able to come through them Mighty Strong! Every experience is an opportunity to discover something new!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Love your attitude. If my temper wasn’t so easy to set off I would want to things like you explained. But I’ve been treated very poorly from the people that I’m referring to in my blog in the past, so I don’t have complete trust and ‘friendship’ with them.

  • westwind
    4 years ago

    tHIS IS JUST A GENERAL COMMENT. I will give people the benefit of the doubt when I am told someone is ill or see a person get out of a car in a handicapped spot and they LOOK just fine. I know that there are many reasons they are there. You can not see what is going on inside. I have been the recipient of many of those criticizing looks and it gets to me. I never or try to never judge a book by it’s cover because there may be untold wonders inside. I also would like to offer those folks a free week in my world then ask them if they are having fun yet. I feel that I have to make the very best I have been given and stay little girl positive: Any Thing can Happen and it will be amazing. Wishing all of you a marvelously wonderful day!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, for sure. And again, this blog isn’t directed towards those that I do not know.

    Unfortunately, these small town communities tend to have a hard time to move on from High School thinking, and they are just the prime example of “Mean Girls”.

  • poppydarling
    4 years ago

    Boy, do I relate to this post! I don’t think this is about you being judgmental or trying to evaluate if they’re “faking it” or not — it’s about that human tendency to bring everything back to yourself, no matter what the other person presents to you. Of course we are in that category sometimes, too! But I think our condition helps make us a bit more compassionate in everyday life. And MS is a Real Worry. So is cancer, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s etc. A cold, the flu, hitting your funny bone, or stubbing your big toe is not a Real Worry. But so many people have poor coping skills for life’s little ups and downs and certainly can’t provide support for others in that state. That’s frustrating, when we really need to lean on others either emotionally–or physically! I’m just not surprised by that self-centeredness anymore, and certainly pick my friends more carefully now. You whine, you go.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    OMG! We are on the same brain wave or something! That’s exactly what I’m trying to state.

  • Nani
    4 years ago

    How can you tell they are faking it or exaggerating? The same way strangers can tell that about us? I don’t think we can afford not to extend compassion and understanding unless we’re prepared to give up hope of receiving that ourselves.

    I’m “lucky” because I’m in a wheelchair so nobody thinks I’m faking it, although I’m an overweight woman with a smile and a wheelchair so I don’t know how many people are thinking if I’d just get out of the chair and exercise…thankfully no one has suggested that to me; I’d burst into tears. But pre-chair boy, I got some dirty looks for having a handicap placard in a Camaro. I shouldn’t have ever had to explain myself nor will I ever expect someone who doesn’t have MS to explain their pain.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m not passing judgement to strangers, first off. These are people that I know from my small community. And previous encounters have given me a warning sign. But when they sit here and tell me one things is hurting them and I give them sympathy, when it is called for. Then I find out they are lying, or see that they lied or exaggerated about what they were dealing with it bothers me.

    It’s the people who do fake these things that make life difficult for those battling an invisible illness.

  • westwind
    4 years ago

    If you qualify for your feelings and assume you know if they are faking or not Are you being Judgmental? Is that the way to be? What happened to having a loving heart and compassion for someone else? I strive to practice this ,it works for me and it just might for others also.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I am passing judgement on others, but it’s not without cause. I understand everyone lives and believes differently. However, I moved to this community when I married my husband, and it’s a smaller community, and they like to stir up things that aren’t needed. So I have no problem speaking my mind to those who are doing things to be rude, negative or any other negative intention.

  • laurac78
    4 years ago

    I completely understand and wholeheartedly agree with you. For previous commenters, this post isn’t about people who actually have physical or mental problems and talk about it. This is for those people who complain to you about every little thing looking for attention..Example: My legs were killing me. They hurt and had gotten to the point that I could barely walk with a cane. I had just arrived to pick up my son from his father’s house..about a 45 min drive…and I always have to rest my legs for about 20 min before driving home. My son’s father and I are very close and he is one of my best friends. So I am in the house with his girlfriend talking..and she asked me how I am..I just told her good, but my legs are hurting a bit…she lifts up her elbow and tells me that she knows just how I feel..she had banged her elbow and it hurt……REALLY!?! SERIOUSLY!?! That is just an example of the ignorant and attention craving idiocy this article is about.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Yes I can agree with that. I try not to let it bother me – but sometimes I have to just let it out, as I do so in my article.

    As stated before, I have full sympathy to those who are truly suffering, but for those who make it up or just do it for attention, it’s like a slap in the face to those who actually do suffer from mental and physical symptoms.

  • LuvMyDog
    4 years ago

    I was diagnosed with MS 32 years ago and experience pain, fatigue, dizziness, depression, mood swings, you name it…
    but that doesn’t give me the right to be rude to people who may be in pain, physically or mentally or to judge whether they are “faking it”.
    If you feel that people are faking it, then why stand around and talk to them if it’s going to annoy you?
    It appears you create your own aggravation.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I do create my own aggravation at times – I have a temper problem that I don’t reject when pointed out. But it’s the fact that people do this in the wrong manner. If someone is feeling pain, or having issues I can sympathize. But it’s when they are doing so in a manner that is offensive to people who actually deal with those symptoms every day, is what I can’t handle.

    I don’t know how to explain how I can tell when people are faking it… but to try and put you in my point of view. I live in a smaller community, and I’m not originally from here, I moved here when I married my husband. So they have their “cliques” and they like to be little me and anyone else when give the chance.

  • westwind
    4 years ago

    I was diagnosed in 1987 and have R/R MS and as you can imagine I’ve had and have my share of ups and downs but I never judge any one else on the premise of” I am worse than you so just shut up and quite complaining. Each person’s take on things is where they are at and to be understanding and willing to just LISTEN may just help someone else. No matter how we came to have MS it doesn’t give us the right to lessen another person’s feelings, even if we don’t agree. If we can give of ourselves we can feel so much happier and healthier. Life is not meant

  • Saja
    4 years ago

    I completely agree with fedupandconfused. As people with MS I’d think that we’d have more compassion for people suffering with anything. I know I do at least. In fact, I have compassion for all living beings. I’m curious as how you “know” these people are faking or doing it for attention. And if they are, does that not show that something is terribly unhappy and wrong in their lives for them to even feel that need? No offence, you have the right to speak your mind and this is of course my personal thoughts on your article. It just seems like you are playing “my pain is greater than your pain” so it means nothing, and that seems wrong to me.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I get what your saying and I agree with your thoughts and insight. However, what I’m really trying to focus on is those people who try and down play what I’m going through by making it seem like they have it way worse. I have compaction where it is warranted. However, I have come in to contact with people who are rude towards me just because of my MS and try and compare what they go through just to belittle me, or do so for attention, if I am receiving any.

  • fedupandconfused
    4 years ago

    It’s all about relativity and just because we as MS people feel pain doesn’t mean we should demean others who equally feel pain in their own way. Empathy goes both ways and we shouldn’t be pious about MS pain even if it is very painful as everyone is walking their own path in life.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I completely understand and agree with where you are coming from. But this is for people who fake it and/or do it for attention.

    I have empathy for those who are actually in pain, MS or not. But not when it’s faked.

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