Talking About Your MS: Silence Doesn’t Always Mean Someone Doesn’t Care

Sometimes people clam up when faced with an uncomfortable situation. For example, say you tell a good friend or colleague that you’ve been diagnosed with MS and you hear nothing from him or her but silence.

Or, maybe you’re having a really bad day and no one seems to be offering any help with that heavy door or that stack of papers you dropped. Or, perhaps you come back to work with a new cane after being treated for a relapse and people look uncomfortable but don’t say anything.

You wonder what’s going on, right? Okay, so some people aren’t very nice and they don’t care, but generally that’s not the case. Here are some other possibilities to consider:

  • An MS diagnosis is a shock for them as well as for you. When people don’t know what to say or how to say it, they sometimes say nothing at all. They may need a little time — and a little help from you — to know how to respond.

  • When people don’t offer help, they often don’t know whether you want it or how to offer it. Keep in mind that no one can read your mind. People who want to help but don’t want to embarrass you or hurt your feelings may hold back until you give the signal — by asking for assistance or taking their arm, for example.

  • When you show up with a new mobility device or helpful gadget, people may wait to see whether you’re going to talk about it. They may be curious, concerned, or even excited to see you using a helpful new tool, but they may also be reluctant to ask a question or make a comment in case that might upset or embarrass you.

    Again, you need to lead the way. If you’re willing or even eager to talk about it, an introductory comment from you will inevitably lead to questions and comments from others.

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