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?