The Awkwardness of Telling Someone I Have MS

One of the things I hate doing most is telling someone about my MS face to face.

You might be thinking, “Wait a second! You’re talking about your MS on every day online, what’s the difference?!”

Well, the “MS talk” has a habit of making things really awkward… like really really awkward.

First off, when I announce it in person, the words always come out as some garbled mix of sentences that don’t really make any sense. I’ll rehearse what I want to say in my head over and over again, but when I’m faced with the challenge of “coming clean” I end up either shouting what I want to say, or talking so quickly I have to continually repeat it.

I have no problems talking about my MS in a conversation. For those who already know about it, they’ll be familiar with my MS conversational habits, and I’m always thankful for their participation, but telling someone for the first time feels like a big deal. I have to try and find a private space, somewhere quiet, and then ask the question, “Can we have a quick chat?” or “I need to tell you something.” It’s almost as if I’m preparing them for bad news.

The reaction doesn’t help.

I can’t really blame anyone for the stunned silence that follows the MS bombshell I just dropped. When faced with bad news, I’ve always done the same. I just don’t know what to say. Do I act sympathetic, or shall I try and re-assure them? Do they want something from me? Or are they just letting me know?

More often than not, the outcome is none of the above. It just becomes a three-minute period of silence, followed by an “Oooooooooooook then.”

Totally awkward.

I hate placing my “burden” on someone else’s shoulders. It feels like I’m making my problems theirs. As if I’ve just invited them into a secret club against their will, and now they are forced to be a part of it.

Then again, it is quite amusing to know those three words, “I have MS,” have the power to make strongest, most confident people I know crumple into a ball of uncertainty and silence.

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You already know. You’ll never have to experience what many others have had to!

To anyone I’ve told in the past: I’m sorry if I made you feel awkward, but believe me, it took a lot of guts from me to “fess up.” If I’ve pulled you over for a “face to face” then you must be pretty important to me!

This post originally appeared on The MS Press.

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