To Tell or Not to Tell – That is the Question

So, you get together with your extended family for the holidays. You’ve been looking forward to this for months. You’ve baked, packed, wrapped the gifts, made the drive and you’re finally there. As everyone arrives, hugs and kisses are exchanged and then – the questions: “how are you – really?” Do you tell them – really – or do you say “I’m fine” which is indicated by how you look. The former would undoubtedly put quite the damper on the event, while the latter makes you feel a bit like a liar. You’re not “fine” even though you look it. You hurt, you’re weak, the optic neuritis might be kicking, how about that “cog fog”? But what good does “complaining” do? Is it really complaining if they asked you? Is there an unburdening that is accomplished by listing ailments? How about the receiver? Is this more than they bargained for or did they really mean to have an answer? By telling the truth, does the mood of the event sink? To tell or not to tell, that is the question.

“But you look so good.” Ah, the dicotomy of this disease. You cannot look at someone with Mutliple Sclerosis (MS) and know that they have MS. Nor, typically, can you look at us and deciper how we’re feeling that day. I’m told that, unfortunately, my eyes give me away. I can say “I’m fine,” but when I’m really hurting, it’s written in my eyes. I’ve put on some of my best performances for family and at social gatherings – oh, and at work too. Really, do people want to know how you’re feeling – really – when they ask, or is it just one of those inocuous questions that people ask off the cuff without thinking about getting an answer back? I’m never really sure how to handle this one. It’s become a knee jerk reaction now to just say “I’m good” or “I’m fine”. I should follow that up with “I’d like to thank the academy.” For me, I do feel better not expanding on my issues, but for some, venting is needed. I say “go ahead and tell them.” If they asked – tell them. That’ll teach ’em! They won’t make that mistake again!

The beauty of several online resources – this one included – is that you have a community of people who know what you’re going through because they’re there too. That’s a great place to vent. It’s a great place to pose and answer questions. Sometimes just hearing that others have gone through it – whatever “it” is – and came out the other side, is enough to give you a boost. I want to provide that type of soft place for us all to land here at FUMSnow. We can help each other – and we can chant together “F-U-M-S, F-U-M-S.”

So – what is it? Do you tell or don’t you? Do you vent or do you get the academy award for best actor in a reality series?

7 thoughts on “To Tell or Not to Tell – That is the Question”

  1. I am in the same boat. Some people have said to me that I am the only person they know with ms that isn’t doing good. I think that is because the people they asked lied and said they were fine. I guess I should start lying also.
    Have a great day.

  2. Stephanie Heinatz

    Tell! People ask because they care and truly want to know. At least I know I do. As a woman with several friends with MS, I am often taken back by how great my pals look…and I often take for granted their daily struggles, and the struggles of their families, because of MS. Please vent and talk to us!

  3. Society at large doesn’t want to hear the truth about how you’re feeling, its an unwritten rule. Reinforced during middle and high school, dont feel, dont tell, dont worry be happy. Along the lines of, if you tell folks you feel like crap, like you said, it brings everyone down. During our generation this was passed down by our parents need to appear normal to the neighbors. If the outside looks good, the inside must be as well.

    There seems to be some movement in our childrens generation, maybe its because they hear stories from across the globe a second after it happens.

    I applaud your tenacity Kathy and if you ever tell me you feel like crap I’ll ask how can I help.

  4. My first instinct is to say “Tell,tell tell!” but I know that in some situations you may get the vibe that maybe the person asking is just saying “how are you?” as one would say “hello” and not really expecting anything other than a cursory “fine and you?”. I know when there are difficult things in my life and someone asks how I am doing and it’s a moment that I really don’t want to get into it, I say “fine” just to move on to another subject- sometimes any subject is better. BUT- when you need to vent, then you know that there are friends and family that would stop anything to listen and support you. I know that I fall into the group that will tell you how great you look, but also truly want to know how you feel.

  5. Well if they ask, tell!, but then again, “How are you doing?”, seems to be an everyday question anymore, but if they did not want to know, then why ask HA HA
    No seriously, I am cautious on who I tell how I am feeling, because some people are just nosy and some do truly care, so I pick and choose who I want to know what is really going on. Kathy, I am like you as well, when I am in pain, you can always tell by looking at my eyes, plus when I am completely exhausted, which is quite often. Now when my parents ask how I am feeling, I am completely honest with them, they are my complete vent and support system along with my daughter, she hears me vent quite a bit. But everyone is different such as Multiple Sclerosis is different within each person, so if you feel that you want to vent, I say go for it, who knows it might just make you feel better, whether that person that asked you how you were doing really wanted to know or not, oh well, should not have asked. LOL

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