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To the Stranger Who Messaged Me That 'Others Have It Worse'

Good Friday. April 14, 2017. I was just finishing up a 40+ hour work week and I was excited that it was Friday! My boyfriend was coming to my house, the weather was beautiful and I was having a relatively good multiple sclerosis day.

boyfriend and girlfriend

While I was working, I received a Facebook message from a friend. Then, I randomly found my way to my “Requested Messages” folder on Facebook and I see a message from a man whom I did not know.

Under his name, I saw he was a part of a Gilenya support group which I am also a member of, which is how he found my profile to send me a message. (For those of you who don’t know, Gilenya is a medication in pill form to slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis.)

His first message was sad and kind. His wife, who had recently passed away, had multiple sclerosis too. He told me he had an unopened bottle of Gilenya, a $7,000+/month medication, and wanted to send it to me to help. A very sweet but odd gesture.

I took a screen shot of the message without completely reading the second part.

My first reaction was “Send away!!” (I am only human). But I’ve always been told not to take candy from strangers. I’m not going to accept a medication – regardless of what it is – from a stranger. I was going to wait until I got home to message him back and politely decline. I was going to suggest he call the company and find out what to do with the unneeded bottle.

But I never responded. I finished my day and brushed off the message from a man I did not know.

His second message is what stuck in my mind for the next two hours while I finished my day.

The message read, “Looks like others have it worse than you. Wow.”

I got home and reread the entire message; I thought I had misread it. I hoped I had misread it. I did not misread it.

Comparing one person’s multiple sclerosis to another is like comparing apples and peanuts. They don’t call it the snowflake disease for nothing.

“Looks like others have it worse than you. Wow.”

Yes, generally I am doing well and I am so thankful! That does not mean my illness is less significant. Telling someone that other people have it worse than they do does not make my MS go away, nor does it predict how healthy I will be tomorrow.

My MS is chronic. My MS is mostly invisible. My MS has caused so many other health problems for me. I hate this monster with a passion.

“Looks like others have it worse than you. Wow.”

I use the Gilenya support group when I have a question about a symptom. Usually the symptom is something small or insignificant and my posts are few and far between. Being in the group for over a year, I realize that there are other people whose multiple sclerosis has progressed differently and is more severe than mine.

That being said, I still have MS. I will always have MS. I can’t regulate my body temperature and when I get too hot my symptoms get worse. I forget words – easy words (one time I forgot the word “knee” and asked my boyfriend if my leg elbow was in the way, true story). I struggle to form sentences and my brain thinks much faster than my mouth which causes me to blend words together or completely mispronounce them.

My hands shake. I struggle walking and get very tired very easily. I’m never well rested and there’s always something on my body that aches. My joints hurt and pop, I bruise if someone looks at me wrong and I forget things often. I struggle to fall asleep nearly every night because my anxiety makes my mind race. I have a hard time focusing on one sole task.

There are days where my entire body is numb and itchy. There are days where I struggle to get out of bed. Often there are days I am so exhausted from doing easy tasks that I cannot leave my bed after work. I cancel plans from a combination of anxiety and exhaustion.

“Looks like others have it worse than you. Wow.”

Sure, maybe others have it worse than me. But at the same time I have it worse than others.

It has been over a week since I read his message and it still haunts me. I feel like I can’t have a bad day because someone else’s day is worse.

Please, do not tell someone with an illness, whether it be chronic, invisible, visible, terminal, mental, physical, etc. that others have it worse. I promise you we all know this. But that doesn’t make ours any less significant or go away.

Just because I don’t post on the internet about my bad days doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

I beg you all to think about what you say to someone, anyone, before you say it. You may never know how much your words hurt and how long your words linger.

At the end of the day, just because someone else has it worse, I still have multiple sclerosis. I will always have multiple sclerosis. We are a package deal, this monster and I. Some day, I could be one of those people who have it worse.

I do not want to think about that day.

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