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.
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.
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