There are so many aspects of living with MS that are frustrating, and sometimes those frustrations occur when interacting with people who do not have MS. One of our amazing contributors, Ashley Ringstaff, shared her feelings about people comparing their experiences with things like fatigue, pain, numbness, and other symptoms with those symptoms in someone who has MS. Many of our community members shared their thoughts and experiences with us after reading Ashley’s article, “You Can’t Compare…”. Here is what they had to say:
“Healthy” People Just Don’t Understand
- This is something that I just cannot seem to communicate to certain people who don’t have MS or have never been chronically ill. “Healthy” people just cannot empathize, and I know because I used to be one and now my experience is completely different.
- The best is when people who know I have MS contact me and tell me they feel they are having symptoms and think they might have MS too – as if I can diagnose them! I try to see it from their perspective but it’s very difficult. Also when I say I’m fatigued- they say they get that way too all the time! I want to explain to them that they have no idea. But I just smile.
- When I try to talk to family members, they say they get dizzy, or they stagger around, etc. I just stop talking and tell them they should get checked out. Even my husband doesn’t totally understand what I go through on a daily basis. I just get so frustrated that I can’t do everything I use to do.
- I hate that my best friend who I haven’t been able to see that much in the past year constantly compares my issue with MS to her chronic pain in her hip, telling me she knows exactly how I feel.
- When I tell people I can’t be in the heat (for me it’s anything above 70) they say “I don’t like the heat either”. I just look at them dumbfounded. I want to yell “When was the last time you got warm and couldn’t lift your legs to walk or think yourself.
- You know, it is natural to feel this way. I am a 15-year stroke survivor and am irritated when someone (who has never experienced a stroke) says they know how I feel. The best common factor I’ve found is any type of trauma.
It’s really not possible to compare
- You can’t even compare your symptoms with others experience who do have MS, or for that matter, I can’t even compare the last time I had a given symptom to what I experience this time.
- I know there are many people in the world with diseases that are even worse than MS, so who compares what anyway? Just try to feel good for yourself and forget about complaining.
- It’s next to impossible to explain what having multiple sclerosis is like to people.
“Healthy” People offer a lot of unsolicited advice
- They ask how I am feeling, so I tell them. The response is always “have you tried such and such” or “that happens to me, too.” Now I only share my symptoms and feelings with medical professionals and a couple of friends who truly do understand. Family? Forget it.
- I love when people say “you would feel better if you lose weight or eat healthier” or the classic “exercise would make you feel great”. My family and friends mean well but don’t always say the right things.
“Healthy” People are just trying to relate to us – it’s harmless
- I like to be more optimistic – I believe, most of the time, they are trying to relate. Unless they are significant in my life, I don’t try to differentiate.
- I feel the majority are trying to empathize. Most just don’t know how to react when you tell them you have MS because they don’t understand what it means.
What about you? Do you find that “healthy” people try to compare their symptoms with yours? Share with us in the comments!