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Why I Don’t Appear Happy for You

An open letter to my friends and family – I have to start by saying I truly do love you and your life accomplishments. I promise, I do. I also am incredibly self aware, which means I know how I appear when you tell me about something incredibly wonderful happening in your life. Perhaps you’re buying a house, getting married, having a child, or started a new career – Whatever the case, I’m elated for you. I may not come off that way, however, and I’d like to explain why.

Multiple Sclerosis has made me many things, envious being one of them. Now, let me clarify that I am not jealous. I am highly envious, however. Allow me to elaborate. I find jealousy to come from a petty place. Envy on the other hand is a painful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. Often times when expressing these times of elatement to me, I know I can come off as flip. I then proceed to analyze everything I said and the tone in which I said it. This process is promptly followed by regret and guilt for how I’ve reacted. Hang with me, I’m going to tie this all together in just a minute.

I have to describe a day in my life for you to fully understand where I am going with this. Mornings are excruciatingly difficult for me, and are filled with pain and weakness. It takes me a good hour to be able to move, when I once was able to wake up and get right to work. Once I am able to move I have to maneuver my morning routine with tremors in my hands, my head, and Bambi legs. Ladies – Imagine mastering your winged eyeliner like this. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but beep beep. Showering is difficult for a multiple of reasons, some being that it hurts to even have the water touching my skin. I’m often late to work now, even though it’s been a few years and I should have a better grip on how much time it takes me to function. My workday consists of vertigo making me ill, blurry/ double vision, burning pins and needles distracting me, and a whole lot of, ” Oh Mia, you have your cane today…” At this point, I am utterly exhausted. Arriving home should be a time for self love and decompression, for me it’s a mental preparation of the night ahead. I’ll get very little sleep, have multiple muscle cramps, and have some of the most ghastly nightmares you can imagine. Then I’ll do it all over again!

Ok, loved ones – what does all this have to do with you? It’s actually simple compared to everything I’ve successfully rambled on about at this point. The fact of the matter is, I don’t allow myself enough forgiveness to think about all the blissful facets of life. I’m consumed with my test results, with my physical and emotional state at any given moment, and frankly just feeling awful. My money is largely allocated to prescriptions and medical bills, so I haven’t saved much for a home or wedding. I am not engaged, and I worry that I will be a burden on the man I love someday. I have no idea how a pregnancy will effect my body, and due to other issues I have been advised to consider freezing my eggs.

The worst part of it all is that I want those achievements more than anything else. I want to be unconditionally loved in a home I made with my family. Desperately, I want these things. I see you and the envy speaks for me before I can think about what I’m saying. By no means would I ever want to stop hearing about my loved one’s lives. It brings me such joy to see you entering these new, exciting chapters of your life. When I sound flippant it’s not out of jealousy, but rather a silent moment of living vicariously through you. Yes, I am also envious of you. It is by no fault of yours, nor mine. I am human, and I am still working on accepting and forgiving myself. I can only ask that you stick with me. I would like to say, “It’s not me speaking, it’s the M.S.” Fact of the matter is, it’s not! It is me speaking. I have not come to terms with a lot that I am experiencing, and it’s my job to work on that.

Loved ones – I adore you. I am elated for you. I want to be there for you. Please, continue to allow me to be. I hope one day I’ll experience these typical life progressions and that you’ll be by my side through all of it. I truly am doing my best for you, while also trying to do my best for myself as well. Be patient with me, and please keep sharing with me. I ask not that you keep things from me, but only to understand where my convoluted reaction stems from. I may not appear happy for you, but nothing could be father from the truth.

-Mia Petitti

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jacksonlowerkeys
    1 year ago

    I’m not sure of your age, but you do look young and you are very attractive. I bring age up because I was lucky enough to be able to work to my retirement, before MS consumed me. Thus, I’m looking back on my life. When I hear a friend (and I use that word loosely) I do feel happy for them. I would have a difficult time if I always felt resentful. On the other hand if I don’t feel they are sensitive to our predicament that is another story. A few people I know are that way. Don’t beat yourself up. Admittedly I go through myriad emotions every day. Best to you and if you’re in search of a smile, come join us at

  • Shasha
    1 year ago

    Mg may help spasms. Amour thyroid may help. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO/food with a label…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic.,..LDN..detoxing helps me. I take Osteoprocare instead of dairy. Pregnancy drains vitamins/good oils out of a mom. Gluten may hurt intestines so less nutrients absorb. No gluten/grains may help people/pets heal fast and thrive. Gluten is wheat/barley/rye..oats/corn/rice so people are no grain. Baby will need grain free also. Baby formula maybe 1/2 sugar/GMO corn/GMO soy which may hurt a baby. Breast feeding as long as the mom has good multiple like Nature’s plus- Source of life and good oils like fish oil/evening primrose oil/lecithin may help. Zn/Vit B12 methylcobalamin with intrinsic factor/Vit D3/sunlight/strong probiotic help me. Hair test shows good minerals/heavy metals. LDN can be taken during pregnancy…it helps MS and helps block hidden gluten. It is less then $1 a day. Best wishes.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    I was diagnosed at 41 and only a short time later. I liked my job. It wasn’t until I had to leave it that I realized how much I liked having my job, a purpose for getting up in the morning and doing something that mattered.

    I was always friends with my co-workers. Since my leaving we get together once a month for a dinner. This always kept me up to date on what everyone was up to. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I was a bit jealous! They had gone on without me and worked and did things with their families. Things I couldn’t do anymore.

    It’s taken many years before I started being truly happy for them, their work and family successes. Life for me hasn’t been the same for the past 18 years but I have also had my successes and I too have moved on. Maybe not in the direction I had always planned for my life but moved on all the same.
    Best of health to all.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    My first sentence should have read that only a short time later I left my job.

  • Strider
    2 years ago

    Thank you, Mia. I’m 68 Male and have raised a family with 2 wonderful sons in their 40’s and grandchildren. I was diagnosed when I was 50. I guess by all appearances you and I don’t have much in common. But, your piece resonates with me to an incredible degree. I might have written the same only with a different life story. I have the things, family and such, that you wish for but I fail to interact with or enjoy all the wonderfulness of that due to my failure to succeed in taming my MS. Perhaps I should say due to my daily battle with living my life with MS. I find myself filled with guilt and longing about not being more for my family. If you don’t mind I would like to use your ‘Open Letter’ idea to say to my loved ones just what I feel. I thank you again.

  • miapetitti author
    2 years ago

    Hello! Of course you can use my letter! I think that no matter what our life circumstances are, MS does ONE good thing and that’s bring us together as a community so we can support and understand eachother. I definitley understand how frustrating and discouraging it is to not have a handle on MS. It’s hard for loved ones to understand and empathize with us a lot, and in turn that discourages us further. I hope this helps though!! Please let me know!

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I don’t appear happy anytime, I am not happy how can I be. My husband continues to work past retirement age for good insurance so I can get treatment. He has to do more and more to help me, my illness has ruined our retirement years. I try to be happy or fake it at least, my husband tells me it’s not my fault but it feels like it is. I am not depressed I am not the happy person I use to be. Potter

  • miapetitti author
    2 years ago

    I completely understand. Forgiveness is such a crucial thing to give yourself. I also feel I am no longer the truly happy person I used to be. I just have to be ok with who I am now, and I am working on that.

  • Johan
    2 years ago

    Hi Mia. Great blog. I’m a 48 year old single guy with no kids living in West Michigan. That’s not terribly important. I was diagnosed with SPMS in April of 2012. That is important.

    I totally get the shower thing. I recently moved into a government subsidized, handicap accessible apartment and the bathroom has a walk-in shower, big enough to fit a wheelchair, with grab rails. It is wonderful. When friends and family come over to see my new place I feel a little funny touting the shower as the best thing ever but having MS like I do, it is.

    Loved your distinction between jealousy and envy. Being almost 50, and packing a lot of livin in that time, I didn’t really start feeling the effects of my MS till about 40. Around 45 I sold my house, quit my job and started a new normal all thanks to MS. I try not to be bitter and do a pretty good job. But your damn right I think about those times when I parked further away from the front door so others might park closer. Now I got a little wheelchair dude on my license plate and park in the blue light special spots as close to the front door as I am able. And I have yet to encounter a rude dude. If you know what I mean.

    My new normal has included keeping up on what internet folks, like you, have had to say regarding MS and I have found it extremely beneficial to me and my MS. Sorry if my speech is a bit encryptic, well, not really, but new normals include putting myself first, like never before.


  • miapetitti author
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing!!!! I really like that you called it, ” a new normal.” One of my biggest faults is constantly comparing my lifestyle now to my past. I don’t allow myself to accepts my new normal as exactly that – normal (for MS patients at least). I really need to work on not being so hard on myself over something out of my control.

    I actually have encountered a rude individual, but it wasn’t over a parking spot surprisingly. It was over me using the handicapped bathroom stall at a store. It all goes back to the fact that without a cane or wheelchair present, MS can be an invisible disease. Some people are just miserable in their own lives and I think we can be easy targets for them in that sense.

    Bitterness can be such a struggle to keep at bay sometimes. Most of the time I don’t even think about the things that make me feel bitter, but occasionally I just get a built up fit of it. For me, the only way to feel better about it is to tell someone I am feeling selfishly bitter, and that I’m damn ok with it because I’m only human.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Mia,

    Thank you for sharing your lovely, poignant story. Please know that we are proud to be part of your village, and are always here to share support. -Warmly, Donna ( team)

  • grizz951
    1 year ago

    Your article almost brings me to tears, being a caring person pretty much a caregiver all my life cant imagine someone worrying about being a burden to others that should in my humble opinion always be there for you no matter what. Maybe its a old school trait that has gotten lost in this new fast paced world. I only hope and pray there are always folks there to make your everyday beautiful. I hope this all made sense.

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