It's not you, it's me.
We can blame ourselves all we want for “isolating”, for cancelling plans with little or no notice because we don’t have the energy to do all the things we used to do. We feel it’s our fault that invitations don’t make it to our inboxes anymore. I mean, it’s not like we’re that fun these days, right? Happy hour is pretty much out for most of us with MS. Being tipsy doesn’t exactly help the walking thing and the after affects of alcohol tend to leave us feeling worse than usual.
So we stay home. We log in to Facebook and look at the pictures of our friends or former co-workers celebrating birthdays and promotions and we remember that we were there a year ago, or two or three. We “like” the photos of parties we’re not invited to and try to ignore the nagging feeling that the reason we’re not there is not just an oversight.
As time goes on, as we decline from cane to walker to wheelchair we feel not only our own dismay at our changing bodies, but the shock of others who haven’t seen us in a while. The discomfort they feel is palatable and we try to put them at ease and show them that we are still the same person they used to know. We still want to laugh and go places and have fun, but it’s hinky for them, this “new” us and it’s hard for others to see beyond the devices that helped get us get out, get to them.
Before I got sick, before MS, I too felt uncomfortable around people with disabilities. It’s difficult to know what to do. Should I ask about their illness, open doors for them, help them up from their chair? Avoidance is inherent, I suppose, but it is heart-breaking for those of us who find ourselves excluded. So, invite me. Please. And if I can’t attend, invite me again. Knowing that you want me there, that you haven’t forgotten me, is everything.
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to multiple sclerosis?