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MS Guilt

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Thursday July 27 2017 10:45 AM

This week from the MS & Me archives series - Declan Groeger discusses MS guilt.

Greetings fellow travellers on the long, winding, pot hole strewn road that is Multiple Sclerosis!

Have you ever sat at home doing absolutely nothing while your significant other was busy doing housework or other necessary jobs like gardening? Did you ever get that uninvited thought run through your mind like a ‘Will O’ The Wisp’ flitting around inside your head “If only I could do more?” And then the thought vanishes almost as quickly as it appeared. It is then replaced by a healthy dose of realism. All those trite one-liners spring to mind in rapid succession; wake up and smell the coffee, get real, get a grip. Realistically there’s not a chance of that happening. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Jean and I have been married since 1979 and I was diagnosed with MS in 1988. There are times when I still feel peculiar about not ‘pulling my weight’ in the household. It’s not really guilt but it’s very close. Maybe it’s more a male hunter/gatherer thing and the consequent feeling of inadequacy and inability to do’stuff’. Jean knows as much about MS as I do and my ‘idleness’ is never an issue for her but sometimes it’s an issue for me. This is one facet of MS Guilt.

There are a large variety of symptoms associated with MS and I think that I have escaped very lightly with my particular MS. I feel peculiar about that when I meet other people whose MS has progressed more rapidly than mine. This is absolutely illogical because I don’t feel jealous when I meet others whose MS is less debilitating than mine. In fact I wish them well and hope that their wellness will continue far into the future. Another facet of MS Guilt?

I go to the gym a number of times a week for 30 to 45 minute sessions. I’m working hard to stay as fit and mobile as possible but the gym work is not translating into ‘house fitness’. I feel guilty about that. Am I being selfish in maintaining my gym regime? 30 minutes in the gym requires 2 -3 hours rest after. Would I feel less guilty if I did 30 minutes of housework and then rested? Probably. More MS Guilt?

These guilt thoughts usually manifest themselves when I am feeling less than 100% and they are usually short lived. I don’t feel guilty for having MS and on an intellectual level I know that the guilt I sometimes feel is irrational and illogical but I can’t do anything about it. Or can I? If you agree with the premise that worry is a waste of time then MS Guilt is an even bigger waste. Can anything be done with these useless, energy sapping, feelings? Mindfulness and Yoga are good weapons in the battle against MS Guilt. 

Does anybody else feel like this? And if so, what do you do about it?

Originally published June 2015

Author: Declan Groeger

Tags: ms, guilt, symptoms

Comments

Edwin

Thursday July 27 2017 13:37

Hello Declan,

Thank you for your article.

I am one of those 'significant others'. My wife was diagnosed with MS five years ago and on some days I am probably doing more chores than I normally would have. Do I feel bad about it? Sometimes I would like to be doing something for myself (I have too many hobbies..) but if doing a few extra things around the house means that I can go for a nice walk with my wife when my chores are done - something that she wouldn't be able to do if she did all the work - I am very happy I did them! I know she feels guilty sometimes, but she doesn't need to and I definitely don't want here to!

So, please keep exercising for those 30 minutes and resting for 2-3 hours after because that is probably what is keeping you fit and healthy! And I am pretty sure your significant other would rather want you to be ably to go to the gym than the other way around!

Life is too short to be feeling guilty!

Declan

Saturday July 29 2017 09:09

Thanks for your lovely comment Edwin and for taking the time to write it

Bridget

Monday July 31 2017 22:19

I am also 'a significant other' for the best part of three years. I have taken on the role of doing all the detail work in the context of aiming to keep life running smoothly.
It took 18 months for my husband to get back from his only attack. Thankfully he has had no obvious relapse, but damage has been done.
It has been a huge learning curve, but we count the good days.
We count ourselves lucky as he was diagnosed late in life, 64, and has made remarkable improvement. I do feel for younger people getting this diagnosis as we all know the fear of how the future will play out.
My husband does what he can, sometimes I think overdoing, but it makes him feel good to achieve. When his energy is elusive I know to leave him be and enjoy his company. Then like magic he is up and in his way again.
Thanks for being able to share. Best wishes to all. Bridget

Declan

Friday August 04 2017 13:49

I think that doing 'what you can' is very important for the psyche

Maura Maye

Friday August 04 2017 15:55

My downfall is that I am very hard on myself. Many of my close pals & family comment on how independent and positive I am. However, especially when I am very tired I feel I should be keeping busy. I know it is irrational but it is hard to stay positive all of the time. So every few months I make a commitment to keep a diary & write down what I have achieved that day, even the smallest thing, I immediately feel more positive when I have finished writing!
It is easier to slow down the body and rest. It is a little harder to slow down and rest the brain. It can be achieved with meditation and relaxation music. Most importantly it can be achieved by acknowledging to ourselves every day that living and coping with ms and symptoms is an achievement in itself.

Declan

Sunday August 13 2017 13:55

I am harder on me than anyone I know but it's just the way I am. Independent, positive or just plain stubborn?

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