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MS Does Not Excuse Poor Behavior

MS Does Not Excuse Poor Behavior

This is a difficult column to pen. I am an open heart, yet critically examining myself, and my troubling behavior is onerous. The ego is not impartial. I have written several articles discussing the emotional toll of multiple sclerosis and chronic illness. By the comments and messages received, it seems as if the unrest is universal in the chronic illness community. My intent of writing on this subject is always to elucidate how and why my breakdowns occur unexpectedly and unwarranted. I want to make my family, friends, and the community conscious of what we regularly struggle with.

I have often attributed my emotional lows to living with multiple sclerosis and congenital heart disease. I also realize that although this struggle is real, bad behavior is distasteful. It has occurred to me that there are times when I may act or react poorly to a situation or a person. If and when confronted, or left to my own devices to self-examine, I subconsciously seek “a pass.” In Monopoly, it would be described as a “get out of jail free card.” I seek exemption from the standard of behavior I expect and demand of others. Verily, the emotional rants are exhausting and can isolate the ones we love. Thus the gist of this week’s column is to emphasize that although the emotional and psychological aspects chronic illness are ever present, it is never an excuse to treat others poorly.

The adage says that misery loves company. The truth is that I avoid most miserable people like the plague. I try to avoid anything or anyone negative. Ironically, if it were possible, I would avoid myself on really bad days. This year is challenging and has presented me with both valleys and mountaintops. Friendships have transformed proving that some alliances are seasonal. There have also been experiences that “crossed the line.” Connections of any kind can be compromised within moments. We hope the people who know and love us will overlook faulty behavior. I struggle with discerning when I should remain silent, retreat from a conversation, and if I should remove myself from a situation completely. Once a word is said, it cannot be retracted. One cannot undo a deed. Apologies won’t erase the damage nor can they atone for the hurt and pain the actions may have caused.

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On most occasions, I hold myself to high standards and require the same from others. Relationships of any sort cannot exist without mutual respect. I acknowledge that I cannot unfavorably behave just because I have multiple sclerosis. It is not a crutch. MS is a difficult, compromising, ugly disease at times, and living with it is hard, yet treating others respectfully is paramount. In life, independent of any illness or circumstance we will experience disagreements. Miscommunications and reconciliations often fill human encounters. I am making a conscious effort to refrain from inflicting my frustrations, pain, and disappointment on others. Relationships are crucial when living with chronic illness. The people we value are irreplaceable.

In closing, the goal is to employ the golden rule of treating others as we wish to be treated. It is also important to identify any person or circumstance that further compromises our emotional well-being. To anyone having a difficult time managing their emotions, help is available and recommended. Poor behavior is not the answer.

“Just because your pain is understandable, doesn’t mean your behavior is acceptable.” –Dr. Steve Maraboli

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Teresa is a congenital heart disease survivor and an MS warrior. Diagnosed in November 2014 with MS, Teresa relies on her faith, family, and friends. As a person with chronic illnesses, Teresa has learned the importance of being both patient in nature and present in each moment. It has also led her to boldly live her truth and walk in her purpose. Teresa’s column will focus on her personal lessons and experiences with MS. Teresa hopes her column will inspire and encourage others to stand in the midst of adversity. She believes that even in the course of illness, we can find greater meaning to our existence and use our light to shine through our darkest hour.
Teresa is a congenital heart disease survivor and an MS warrior. Diagnosed in November 2014 with MS, Teresa relies on her faith, family, and friends. As a person with chronic illnesses, Teresa has learned the importance of being both patient in nature and present in each moment. It has also led her to boldly live her truth and walk in her purpose. Teresa’s column will focus on her personal lessons and experiences with MS. Teresa hopes her column will inspire and encourage others to stand in the midst of adversity. She believes that even in the course of illness, we can find greater meaning to our existence and use our light to shine through our darkest hour.
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  1. Desiree says:

    I agree with this observation WHOLEHEARTEDLY! But is common in many circumstances. I try to remember that everyone is dealing with something!

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Desiree,
      Thanks for reading the column and sharing your thoughts. Emotional outbursts and mood reactions are common and I agree that everyone has something they’re dealing with. My hope is that we will find effective ways to communicate with our support systems. That is very different from treating another poorly. Best wishes to you.

  2. Tony Rooney says:

    How true, very well written, a great article. After 17 years with MS, I know there’s nothing worse than being a part of a group of people & being miserable because of MS. Luckily, I’ve never been in this category & have always put on a brave face to hide my inner feelings; nothing worse than to be seen as a miserable sod.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Tony!
      Thanks for reading the column and for your feedback. I agree that MS related misery is tough. Although I applaud your courage, remember that You are allowed to have a bad day. It’s how long we stay there and how we react that may cause an issue. Continued strength and blessings to you.


  3. Linda says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have MS myself throughout a mild from and I recognise many of the things you describe, and the struggle with it from time to time.
    It is difficult sometimes to keep an open mind and not blame the MS for everything. I just try to keep in mind nobody is perfect and anyone can have difficult moments. And sometimes I just say to a collegue or a friend I have a bad day and if I react negative it is more a reaction to my own struggle than to them.

    I wish you strength but most of all loting and caring family and friends who will help you.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Linda,
      I am happy that the article helped in some way. Thank you for reading it. I also want to say that we must endure some really tough times in life, especially with MS, but we make it through. You’re courageous in admitting, seeing and speaking to your behavior, especially when it may be unfavorable. I admire you and wish you continued strength, love and support to endure. Warm wishes to you.

  4. Marty burns says:

    right on but I would add two things. hate and any form of it is a self consuming emotion and nobody gets out of here alive so learn to enjoy life.I say this having rr ms.don’t piss others or yourself off just walk awayThanks Marty

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Marty,
      Thanks for reading the column and for your thoughts. I agree that we have to learn to enjoy life despite MS and walk away from trivial things that upset us. Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you.

  5. Rob T. says:

    I have praised your writing before Miss Teresa, but WOW! And I mean, WOW!!! Basically at some point within every single thing you write, I sometimes feel your talking DIRECTLY to “ME” and/or FOR “ME”! You write with such eloquence, so masterfully, so TRUTHFULLY! I have read everything you’ve written (that I could find on the site) to date, and compared to every other writer, “YOU” connect, as well as HIT ME UPSIDE THE HEAD each & every time! Which is a GOOD THING! I would ALMOST tend to think you had a HIDDEN CAMERA placed over my life, watching it closely, and basing your writing’s off of my own experiences. You may not find this believable, being that we are from such different backgrounds and lifestyles, but I can tell you this. You would be what we down here in Alabama call “CITY FOLK”. I would probably fit the profile Hank Williams Jr. made iconic with his song, “A Country Boy Can Survive”, because I REALLY DO own a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4 wheel drive! And actually, SEVERAL GUNS, lots of camo, lip full of Skoal (dip,or smokeless tobacco), and many other identifiers. Miss Teresa, “YOU” are this REDNECK with Multiple Sclerosis’ VOICE! I too, like so many others, just can’t seem to find the RIGHT “WORDS” more often than not, but “YOU” always seem to do it FOR ME! So while you’re goal is to HOPEFULLY touch and/or get through to people, I can honestly tell you that “YOU” get this country boys attention with EACH & EVERY ARTICLE you write! And I wanted to THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, as well as the TOP and everything in between, THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO!! Also, it may just be a “SOUTHERN” thing, but I think it should be a WHOLE WORLD thing, but we all tell each other, whether it be family, friend, or complete stranger, as often as possible that we “LOVE” each other. I believe that the key to a productive, meaningful, happy life which God blessed us with, IS “LOVE”! It conquers ALL! Although I don’t know you, never ACTUALLY seen you, or met you, that DOES NOT, WILL NOT, and SHOULD NOT prevent ANYONE from “LOVING” and/or “CARING” for & about all PEOPLE, regardless of race, color, or creed. Just know this Miss Teresa, you have at least one admirer who has no problem tellin’you that I do in fact LOVE YOU & CARE ABOUT YOU! MS sucks, but I tend to think that the Lord only allows things such as MS to be placed upon those of us who are STRONG ENOUGH to carry it, while still fulfilling purposes in lives to which God sent us here to do. Therefore, while I do have to carry this burdensome disease along with me throughout the rest of this WILD & CRAZY RIDE we call “LIFE”, I choose to carry it with PRIDE. Sure, my load is heavier than that of others, but the Lord MUST
    have KNOWN (although sometimes I too question it) that “I/WE” CAN CARRY IT and handle it with as much strength, courage, patience, perserverance, endurance, and “LOVE” as we possibly could. You are a WARRIOR Miss Teresa, as well as a LEADER & VOICE for us all (especially in my own case)! So if you ever make it down to Bama, stop by and see me, and I’ll throw some deer steaks on the grill, a few bacon wrapped rabbits breasts, and I’ll introduce you to a “COUNTRY BOY WHO CAN & WILL SURVIVE”!!

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Rob,
      This message has me smiling. First, thanks for your support by reading my work. I am also happy to know you identified with some things written here. You prove that each of us, with different backgrounds and symptoms, are very much alike in our existence and illnesses. You continue to carry your MS with pride and reward yourself for the small battles won. Rob, thanks for making me smile and lifting my spirits. I appreciate you!!

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Cynthia,
      Thanksfor sharing your thoughts. I think we have all been in that space. I hope your bad days aren’t many and that the good days are great. You are courageous. Thanks again for your words.

  6. Verity says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. My mother has MS and seems to think it’s ok to belittle or be rude to people because of it. Thank you for showing me that it still isn’t ok to be like that.

  7. Chris says:

    I’m dating a girl who has MS, and she can be really rude to me from time to time. It upsets me, because I’m not used to it. I confront her about it and she basically says it’s her MS and she can’t control it. (She’s not rude to people she isn’t as comfortable with, it seems. This leads me to believe she CAN control it, just would prefer not to deal with the work involved.) I don’t know what to do. I’ve dated her for 2 years and sometimes I just want to walk. She’s a fantastic girl. I just don’t know how to deal with this.

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