When I was first diagnosed, I remember waking up from sleep one morning with an idea on my mind – You must write something about what people might want to avoid saying to someone with MS. It was such a clear cut idea, I got up and wrote the first draft – 3 things you shouldn’t say… . After about 2 weeks of working on it, I became bold and sent it in to Momentum which is the NMSS’s magazine, and they accepted it! Well out of this came responses from people and the editor of my piece was kind enough to send me some of them. I read them with a mix of awe, outrage and understanding. I think anyone who has had – probably any illness can relate to the at times strange suggestions of well meaning people, it doesn’t seem to get old. Last week I saw this list for the first time. It’s amazing to see that things haven’t really changed that much.
This is a list of comments that I have experienced personally:
Why not just take a nap if you’re so tired?
Ah, we all have lesions on our brains!
Have you tried this supplement? It works wonders
Maybe you should become a vegan
Have you listened to that woman’s presentation? She cured herself, I’m sure you could too!
You know, eating sugar caused this for you right? Sugar is the DEVIL!
I wouldn’t have pegged you to have MS (A doctor blessed me with that one, he didn’t seem to believe that minorities got MS… moving on)
My stepfather has Parkinson’s maybe that’s what you have!
You should lose weight, everything is better once you lose weight!
All you need to do is exercise more – you’ll be fine
What’s MS? Ive never heard of it, Is it something new?
If only you put your mind to it – I know you could do it (lift my leg)
And the kicker:
You should pray and ask God to forgive you of your sins, the MS might go away.
(Yes, that really happened)
Such comments have the potential to be hurtful, frustrating, and downright rude, but sometimes it doesn’t pay to return rudeness.
How to deal with such comments?
Well depending on the audience, it could be a teaching opportunity to explain a bit more about MS
A kind “Thank you”
A firm explanation of the alternative that you currently make use of (which is working for just fine for you)
Smile and nod, just smile and nod.
How do you deal with strange comments?