“Oh, just get over it already”… Really?

Have you ever expressed a concern or talked with someone about a new multiple sclerosis symptom you are experiencing and their response was “get over it”? I’ve always thought that to be a strange response. Get over what? Get over the pain? Get over the fear? Get over a chronic disease? What exactly am I to be getting over?

How do you get over something that you live with on a daily and minute to minute basis. It’s easy for someone to come along who isn’t living in your body and say “get over it” when they aren’t experiencing your challenges, but a person doesn’t just get over multiple sclerosis…they live with it.

I have no control over how my body will respond from day to day or even know what challenges I will be facing. One day I may feel great and the next day feel as if I’ve been hit by not just one, but two Mac trucks. I can’t control how my body is feeling and behaving even within the next hour, so how am I supposed to just “get over it”?

Unfortunately, there are people who are unequipped, ill-equipped and wrongly equipped to be helpful to a person living with a chronic illness. If I had a broken arm, I would have people pouring out their concern and desire to help me open doors and carry a pile of books, but that’s because a broken arm is temporary and the need is visible. Once the bone mends and the cast is removed, the need for help is no longer there. Life goes on as it always was and no one has to open doors or carry books for you any more.

But a chronic illness is ongoing. It doesn’t simply go away no matter how much someone wishes it would. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to expect someone who is going through pain, weakness or any other MS struggle to simply “get over it” as if it’s a decision that can be made.

“Oh, today I’m going to ignore the fact that my legs don’t work, get over it and walk across the room.” Really? And that’s suppose to make multiple sclerosis go away…ignoring it and just get over it? Yeah…No, that doesn’t work.

Most of the time people who give that kind of advice, if you want to call it advice, are at a point of frustration within themselves because they are being inconvenienced. They actually say what they say because in reality they want you to be over it so they can be spared having to deal with your challenges. Most people want to help others out, but they want you to feel better thus sparing them the inconvenience of having to adjust their own lives to accommodate the unexpected. They are thinking of themselves.

Don’t ever apologize because you are hurting or needing help. Don’t allow someone’s response to you cause feelings of guilt just because you are having a challenging day. You are the one living with MS and you have the right to feel what you feel. Most people with MS hide their struggles for that very reason. They don’t want to be thought of as a burden because they know their pain is ongoing.

But I want you to know that you are not a burden, you HAVE a burden which by definition is something too heavy to carry alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The ones who are meant to stick around will ask how they can help lift that burden whenever they can. Let the others go.

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About the Author

Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

56 replies
  1. Patty Solis
    Patty Solis says:

    I have experienced “you talk to much about MS”- Although I didn’t say it (out loud). My feeling were…. and YOU talk to much about your backache, headache, etc

  2. Della Smalley
    Della Smalley says:

    I have n it gets to a point where I tell them nothing,If they could only live 12 hrs. in are shoes n u know what they wouldn’t be able to handle it

  3. Sherry Mcdaniel-Lehnen
    Sherry Mcdaniel-Lehnen says:

    I think the hardest part is our book is not our cover. I had to give up my stressful career and feel sometimes inadequate when I see other MSers still working. Plus most my friends work so it’s hard to have real dialogue with them as it feels like Im being judged because I no longer work and don’t walk with a cane and have been relapse free for a few years now. It sucks because I have lost my ability to multitask and feel so exhausted doing the simplest things. It’s hard to hang with everyday joes as the constant fatigue cheats you out of the norm.

  4. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    I had a good reply when I was on holiday. Our bus driver drop us at a restaurant and he asked me what the problem I have, so I told him “I have MS”. And he turned to me and told me (good humor) “You should say it was a rugby damage. Now we were with a busload of tourist from mainly Asia and they wouldn’t understand what ms was but they would understand the game rugby and what damage it could do. So I took that on board and was never asked again by anyone.

  5. Julie Jene
    Julie Jene says:

    People who do NOT live with misunderstood, chronic conditions must fear the possibilities…..sometimes a lot. Still makes me want to kick their butts…..sometimes a lot.

  6. Annette Jolly
    Annette Jolly says:

    People. Who are close to me and should know better,’sink the boot in’, ignore the fact that I am not physically able to do things, make remarks and imply that they are much worse than me, make me feel totally inadequate and therefore make my illness worse. They DO NOT HAVE A CLUE what they are doing to me and I can’t be compared to other MS sufferers because every one of us is different! I do what I can when I can and end up exhausted and I’m still made to feel as if I’m not doing enough! I don’t wish anyone any ill but just wish they could stand in my shoes for a few days and I defy them to still be standing at the end! There, I’ve had a rant and feel calmer for it! I’ll bounce back tomorrow ( I hope ) so bring it on!

  7. Rich Edwards
    Rich Edwards says:

    My parents usually told me, “I’ve seen other MS people do okay with that symptom.” That’s great for them… really is. Still not MY symptom.

    • Jana Morgan
      Jana Morgan says:

      Yes that is what hurts the most as you think you are a problem all the time no matter how nice you are. Very depressing feeling as though no body wants to know you really.

  8. Rebecca Beasley
    Rebecca Beasley says:

    No one has ever said anything like that to me thankfully. I don’t tend to talk about it though. It’s just too hard to summarise in ways people can grasp. But even so I don’t think they would. I do cop “I know how you feel” comments though. Hmmm.

  9. Natalie Borodchak
    Natalie Borodchak says:

    Yuppers! Or the person I am talking to starts to “compete” with me as to who is sicker. Ah, I thought I was leaning on a shoulder Not a guest on Jeopardy!
    Alex I’ll take “Who hasn’t suffered enough” for 2,000$

  10. Judi Wnuk
    Judi Wnuk says:

    MY problem is trying to make people understand there are some days I just can’t do it…I just need to sit and except my pain…but I look normal if there is any and have to go along with the flow…

  11. Raeann Smoot
    Raeann Smoot says:

    The saying, “You don’t get MS until you get MS,” has proven very true. My husband has to deal with all of the different me’s that MS brings to the surface. He tries to understand but he won’t ever truly understand. Hell, I don’t always understand; and I’m the one with this delightful mess of a disease. He is disabled due to his hip, leg and back. We end up taking care of each other. It’s not a perfect situation, but we manage. Penelope, you are an amazing person. You say out loud all of the things I wonder about in silence. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words are priceless!

  12. Shanna Kinser
    Shanna Kinser says:

    What I do hear is “Well, we all have that or feel that way sometimes” I used to let seemingly insensitive remarks bother me and I would react. Usually, people don’t mean to slight us. We all probably have been insensitive ourselves, particularly before we developed a serious, chronic disease. Millions of people live with difficult diseases and disorders. I’m more inclined by now to let it go, unless it is obvious insult. The only people I hold to a much higher standard are medical professionals. I’ll nail any nurse or doctor who is dismissive or patronizing.

  13. Joe Metiva
    Joe Metiva says:

    I know the people I love get frustrated with this condition but I’m not faking it. I would not wish this on anyone. It has completely changed my life. Hoping and praying for all the people that have MS.

  14. Issy Coombs
    Issy Coombs says:

    I haven’t been told to “get over it” but I have often had the response “oh we all do that”. Yes, Maybe everyone does.But NOT every day and NOT to the extent that happens with MS.

  15. Kristina Layton Cates
    Kristina Layton Cates says:

    That’s why I don’t talk about it too much, unless it’s accompanied by a joke. My husband knows. He’s seen the gross stuff. The fear, the frustration, the need, and he doesn’t blink. I’m grateful for that every day.

  16. Gail M. Ferguson
    Gail M. Ferguson says:

    Not exactly but I was told having a task to either do the day while I was feeling good or the day after when who knows how I would feel the person who thinks they know it all told me “that’s motivation for you to get well!”

  17. Leah
    Leah says:

    Fortunately, I’ve never had this happen to me. For those who have, I am truly sorry. Some people are truly ignorant, self-centred, unempathetic, and I believe their day will come when faced with something difficult their life. What goes around…comes around.

  18. Jane
    Jane says:

    My children have told me that I blame everything on the MS. Well, things are happening to my body now that never was like that before the MS and I’ve read enough to know these things ARE caused by it. I wish they would stop trivializing it!

  19. Ana B Housen
    Ana B Housen says:

    If I am talking to a friend, or a dr, nurse or anyone about something that is going on with my ppms husband they wouldn’t even think about saying that , I would rip them a new eye socket

  20. Samantha DeGroot
    Samantha DeGroot says:

    The worst ever was my my husband. He was frustrated and I came out. He apologized a lot but the damage was done. That was the first time I ever felt alone with my illness. It took us way too long to repair that injury that was truly just a slip of the tongue

  21. Carol Butler
    Carol Butler says:

    Never had it to happen to me, but it breaks my heart when other people have it to happen to them. My husband is the only one that knows everything that goes on.

  22. Leslie Beaver
    Leslie Beaver says:

    Lucky enough never to have had this experience. As I am stable. Plus my confidant is my wife. Who knows that such talk from me is rare and therefore not just a complaint. But more of an observation.

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