MS Guilt

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