Thinking of others does make a difference, not least because it distracts us from our own troubles. Try it - it works.
“I miss me. The old me, the happy me, the bright me, the smiling me, the laughing me, the gone me.”
That was a quote I saw on an MS Facebook page and I felt sad for the lady who posted it. Because I knew in my heart it didn’t have to be that way.
The old me never went anywhere
But who could blame her for feeling how she did, given that multiple sclerosis diminishes our self-belief? A consequence, I would say, of being stuck inside a bubble of doubt and isolation, where the only conversation to be had is about losing battles with MS.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, if only MSers realised the old, happy, bright, smiling, laughing ‘me’ never went anywhere.
Instead, as is more than likely, our sense of self-worth got overwhelmed at the moment of diagnosis. Ultimately, that was where we forgot who we were before we were diagnosed. Before we chose to live MS and not life.
Everyone has their own mountains to climb
Perhaps that's why we’ve lost friends, because MS was all we ever talked about 24/7. Certainly it never occurred to me at the time that some people who asked how I was were just being polite.
Yes, of course they cared. But just maybe their minds were elsewhere, thinking about their own mountains they had to climb.
Perhaps they merely needed a break from their own problems without having to listen to a myriad of symptoms - like bladder, bowel, balance and speech difficulties. Now I think, is it any wonder even some of my best friends ran for the hills?
Speaking to so many people like me, I’ve become very aware this experience mirrors similar situations with other MSers. They didn’t, even for a moment, think about friends who were trying to deal with problems of their own. Like the devastating effects of dementia or cancer diagnoses, bereavement or family conflicts. We all have them.
Living a more thoughtful, less selfish life
It puts things into perspective, really. Those friends who ask after us might just want to spend time with a friend. Someone to take their mind off their own problems for a while. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?
We’re so often wound up and weighed down by our own life, we never think anyone else might be having a worse time of it than we are. The world does more than revolve around our own MS universe. Friends need our care and friendship as much as we need theirs.
Thinking of others does make a difference, not least because it distracts us from our own troubles. Try it - it works. That’s why I choose to live a more thoughtful, less selfish life. It beats living alone with MS.
Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at martinbaum.co.uk.