Many times trying to explain the difficulties of living with a chronic progressive disease is met with a blank stare or opens the door for lots of unwanted advice. Just the concept of someone being both chronically ill and progressively ill can be hard for some people to comprehend. Add to it all the symptoms that MS causes—you know the pain, numbness, weakness, vision problems, dysfunction, emotional distress, breathing difficulties—and you find it’s a topic the general population doesn’t seem capable of discussing.
They don’t seem to understand how you can become so weary in the daily fight with multiple sclerosis that your emotions can literally go bonkers causing you to cry at the drop of a hat, but that doesn’t mean you’ve given up on life. Or how today you prefer chillin’ in bed watching a marathon of The Beverly Hillbillies on Netflix over an afternoon out with friends, but that doesn’t mean you are being anti-social or won’t want to hang out tomorrow. Or how you actually want to discuss the possibilities of what might happen to your life in the future and find it comforting to be prepared for the “what if’s” of tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you are focusing on the wrong things and need to stop thinking about how bad things can get.
Just because I may have a bad day or be in a bad mood one moment doesn’t mean I will be feeling that way later on in the day. There’s a lot going on in my life right now and sometimes talking about it is the best way for me to process the overwhelming flood of emotions that seem to swallow me whole. Talking about it actually helps me come to terms with my reality.
For me, it seems the people who are willing to listen during those down moments and allow me to vent, they are the ones I want to have around. There’s no judging, no placing blame, no advice giving, just a listening ear, support and care. That’s really what most of us want anyway…someone willing to listen and maybe cry along at the sad moments while throwing in a laugh or two to break up the darkness we find ourselves getting caught up in.
The truth is, we want to believe friends will be there for us when we are at our lowest and that they will allow us to vent, complain, cry, ponder and question. We want to believe a cure for MS is just around the corner and that we will find ourselves in a perpetual state of remission. We want to believe today is the worst day we will ever experience and that only good days are ahead for us. We want to believe we will live to be 100 years old, happy and have experienced a life full of joyful moments. We want to believe, hope, and fight with the strength of a thousand warriors…but many times we fail.
When we find ourselves down and at our lowest, it’s then that we simply want to be understood. Will you stand with us when we cry, hold us up when we wobble, and encourage us when we grow weary? MS is not a disease that can be fought alone. It takes the support of friends and family. We need each person in our life to help us in the fight.
Together we can believe for greater things. Together we can overcome the emotional rollercoaster. Together we can do the impossible.