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.
NEWS FLASH: 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 and have a tendency to twitch uncontrollably, get over it and walk across the room.” Really? And that’s suppose to make multiple sclerosis go away…ignoring it and just getting over it? Yeah…No, that doesn’t work. Our decision is in working through it, not getting over it. We need help through the pain, through the struggle, through the difficulties.
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 and their struggle is a daily occurrence.
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. Let the others go.