What WE Need to do to Raise MS Awareness
I often hear people (myself included at one point) complain that there is not enough awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. You always see commercials for cancer (for example) and they are not even trying to sell anything! They are just trying to raise awareness and get people up and doing something about it. That is what we need right? So why do we not have it? Some people try to blame organizations like the National MS Society, which maybe they could try to do something but I don’t think one ad would make a difference. So why not? What would?
In my opinion, not enough people actually talk about MS. People are diagnosed and they keep it to themselves like there is something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Well if no one talks about it how does the world even know that there is something in need of raising awareness? We as patients need to talk about it more. We have to be open and not just talk about it all in private forums or groups on Facebook. I always encourage blogging but that is not for everyone but pretty much everyone is on some form of social media so don’t be shy!
Don’t try to hide your “MS life” from your friends! Share your experiences! Doing so makes it “real” to people and empathetic people will want to do something to help which raises awareness. You don’t have to do an actual post specifically about it, I am not saying you need to go and announce it to the world, I am just saying don’t be afraid to mention it! When curious people want to know more again, don’t be shy, share with them! Educate the people in your life rather then coming up with excuses for why you can not do something in attempt to hide the real reason; MS. Maybe it’s hard for you because you don’t want sympathy or you don’t want people to treat you differently? Well if that is the case, don’t make a big deal of it! I know I don’t want pity so in my day-to-day life I often will mention it in a conversation very nonchalant; if they catch it and want to know more I will educate them but again, I don’t make it out to be a big deal. I speak of it very casually, just a matter of fact. I even try to throw some humor in there! In doing so I don’t get the pity I hate to get but instead I just get empathy and understanding which of coarse is much different than sympathy.
If you don’t try to shove it in people’s faces they won’t react with pity but it will instead make them think. People tend to talk about things they think about. Maybe next time they are with someone complaining about how hard their life is they will think about you and say “you know, my friend has MS, and…” which is raising awareness because now other people are talking about something they may not have previously known about. The word is spreading.
Yes, there are lots of things we can do to raise awareness but I truly believe that before campaigns, commercials, fundraisers (or anything else you can think of) will actually work the best and most important first step is simply talking about it. Yes, there are lots of people who talk about it online but we need more people talking publicly about it whether it is on Facebook or with a group of friends. There is no one that I wouldn’t tell about my MS, I just don’t understand what the big deal is? Again, I don’t push it or parade it around but if it comes up it comes up because how else will people really learn about it? People need to be able to put a face to it and even though more celebrities are coming out about it and trying to raise awareness (which helps) it would help more (I think) if they personally knew someone with MS and knew how it affects them on a day to day basis. “Wow you have MS? I heard so and so has that but what you’re telling me MS does to you is a bit different than what so and so said. I had no idea how it could affect so many people in so many different ways!”
So again, I can not emphasize this enough; talk about it! Share!