Why I Don't See Myself as an MS 'Warrior'
I am not an MS warrior.
I know this is taboo to say.
But what I do every day is not bravery. It is not fighting. It is surviving. I live with this disease, I live alongside it. I respect it, and if I do that, it, at times, respects me.
It’s not that I have anything against anyone who says, “I have MS, but MS does not have me,” or “I am an MS warrior.” It is an individual struggle, a condition to live with, and we all handle it differently. We shouldn’t be judged for how we cope. I fight nothing.
I had a family member pass away from complications of MS when I was a teenager. She was a smart, educated, young woman. She tried very hard to live with MS, and battle it, and win. So do I say she lost? No. Her battle was different than mine, and it isn’t fair to compare us. It isn’t fair to compare any of us.
Saying that if we just “fight hard enough” or “pray hard enough” or “try hard enough” is a false hope. It implies that the person who has MS is at fault for having it. For being where they are. And I resent that. My family member tried, really tried, to fight the disease. She did not lose. She did her very best.
I have a progressive disease with no cure. I can accept that. I can live with that. Anyone who can’t is welcome to exit stage left and I will not hold them any worse for it. I don’t want anyone to watch me suffer, either. I get it. If leaving makes them feel as though they have some power over a disease like this affecting them, I get it. This scene is not for everyone, and that’s cool.
I’ll be just fine, thank you.
Just because one is doing well with an illness like MS – as I sometimes am – doesn’t mean I am stronger or tougher than anyone else. It means I’ve gotten the luck of the draw (which, I mean. I never win anything. Wait. Once I won an umbrella). It means my family member got the short end of the stick of life. And that’s not OK. But that is life.
This is life.
I don’t believe that being “tough” or a “warrior” or “refusing to let MS win” makes you any more likely to beat this disease. I believe it helps you get through. Positive thinking is a good thing. It helps you cope. It helps you survive. Just please don’t assume those who are struggling more with a disease than someone else are not trying as hard.
Acceptance of a disease doesn’t make you less. Or weak. It makes you human. It creates you as a stronger person. Every day we are still here means we are still in the fight. That’s true of life with or without a progressive disease.
Being sick is not your fault.
And at the end of every day, isn’t that just what we are all doing? Surviving? Getting through? Trying to be happy?
Yes, I think it is.
I am not your MS warrior. I’m just Abigail.
Getty Image by Kerkez