“You’re Not Disabled, You Just Don’t Want to Work”
Has anyone ever told you that? Or suggested that? Probably not even to your face but either way, it is so insulting isn’t it? The idea that we are only using multiple sclerosis (MS) as an excuse to not work because we are just lazy. Obviously there are people who have MS that can still work but there are also many people with MS who can’t because news flash, MS does not affect everyone the same! Just because you have a cousin who has a friend whose mom has MS and they can work does not mean we all can… To those of us living with MS or living with someone who has it, this is obvious, something that does not even require thought so when we hear people telling us stuff like this it comes off as asinine, unbelievable that someone could actually think in such a way! But people do and it is sad, sad that there are people living with MS, living a constant battle, who also have to deal with this criticism.
The father of the girl I was dating when I was first diagnosed with MS thought this way. He never said it to my face but when I was not around he openly expressed how he thought I just did not want to work but instead collect a government check and live a life of idle luxury. He obviously did not feel I was good enough for his daughter (not just because of that but also because of things like the fact that we had opposing political views) but that is not what angered me, what angered me was the idea that I just didn’t want to work, that I just wanted to laze around and that I saw MS as my ticket to do so. That was many years ago but it still angers me to this day! I think it’s the knowledge that there are people out there who feel this way, who think people with MS are just trying to scam the system. I hear similar stories all the time from friends with MS and that also angers me, seeing people I care about so upset over something someone said, over the idea that that person does not deserve Social Security because they are just being lazy.
So here is what I have to say to those people; I don’t know one person with MS collecting a Social Security check that deep down inside I think should be working a job instead. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone with MS on Social Security who does not wish they could still be working. We miss the days where we had jobs because when you lose the ability to work you lose a huge sense of independence. But MS is a neurodegenerative disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves) and I “think” that controls every bodily function required to work a job (or even simply be alive) like being able to walk, see, maintain your balance, not be in pain, be able to properly control your limbs or even think! So no, many of us actually can NOT work anymore. I whole heartedly believe there is not one person with MS who would not give up that monthly check to be able to feel “normal” again and by normal I mean not have to deal with the constant struggles, hardships and pain of this disease and instead be able to work even the most mundane of jobs!
When I really think about it the most logical explanation I can come up with for why there are so many “haters” out there is that they are simply ignorant of this disease; they really have no idea what MS actually is so instead they just believe what they see and to them most people with MS look 100% ok (because it does not turn us bright green) even though if you were to look at their MRIs you could tell that something is very wrong without any sort of medical degree. I also sometimes think that a lot of these people are unhappy with their jobs and financial lives and just wish they could just sit at home doing nothing while living off the government. They are the very kind of people they accuse us of being and are secretly jealous of what they think we have. Well here is the thing, no one with MS wants this life, it is not relaxing, we want what you (the haters) have so if you are OK with feeling like the world around you is constantly spinning, not being able to walk in a straight line, not being able to drive, constantly tripping over nothing and falling, feeling nauseous, being in pain, dealing with bladder issues, not being able to think clearly or remember anything, having to walk with a cane or use a wheelchair, not having the strength or energy to have fun with all the friends you grew up with along with all the other random hardships of MS, we will gladly trade you bodies so you can collect a Social Security check that is nowhere near enough money to actually live on and we will go get ourselves jobs and earn an actual living that would allow us to do the things we want to do instead of just most of what we have to do like order more pills or pay medical bills.