The Unspeakable Bits; From A Life With MS
‘Tis the season of witches a-broom, of zombies and
ghouls and of vampires and ghosts. With
Halloween just around the corner I thought it appropriate to bring up the
things that go bump in the multiple sclerosis night. Well, maybe not the actual
things, but our dread of them.
I don’t remember where I heard it first, but someone
wiser than I once said that “fear is the opposite of hope.” Being that we all
live our lives in hope of a good day versus a bad one, with hope for a cure and
hoping that our generation is the last to hear the words, “you have multiple
sclerosis,” it is only natural that we sometimes experience the
through-the-looking glass emotion of fear.
Fear – rational fear – can be a very healthy
emotion, when taken as prescribed by nature.
Walking through the early forests and jungles, primordial
man’s fear of being eaten by his equal on the food chain was a real and
Irrational fear, however, is that little voice that
I can only hear in the most alone times as I try to sleep. Irrational fear is
the “what if, Trevis” that can whisper into my ear as a new symptom takes hold
or an old nemesis grips me by the semi-recovered part.
This kind of fear can be a rabbit hole of
extraordinary proportions and more difficult to exit than Pan’s labyrinth.
The key is, of course, to keep ourselves from taking
that first step. As my Neolithic ancestors have, however, passed on that
reactionary little part of my brain where fear is housed, I must find a way to
cope with the times I do feel the MS tiger’s breath on my neck.
Just like a parent turning on a light and checking
under our bed, I feel that addressing our fears in the bright light of the
“inter-web” can be a calming factor. Even more calming than admitting my own
fears is seeing that I am 1) not alone in having the fear and 2) reading of
others' successful tactics of dealing with the things which I fear most.
No longer am I then a lonely wanderer, alone at the
edge of night and day. I am suddenly a member of a strong and like-minded
tribe. I can talk to people who have
known and combatted my fears. They can show me not only how to recover from
them, but also how to avoid their trap in the first place.
When FDR said that our only fear was “Fear itself,”
he – as a polio survivor himself – must have known the grip that fear can have
on a person. The greatest risk is that fear can freeze us in our tracks and
keep us from moving forward in our lives, in our loves and in our pursuits.
I invite all of us to share one of your MS fears in
the comments. It is not a weakness to talk of our fears, but rather, I’d argue,
a strength. I also welcome respectful reactions and responses to one another in
these pages. Like a fabled hunter regaling our tribe with tales of a successful
quest, we too can take a little bit of fear out of our collective night and
help one another get on with the living of our life – MS or not –with hope.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.