How to stop feeling guilt for having Multiple Sclerosis

Do you feel guilty for having MS? Or for the things that you can’t do because your multiple sclerosis restricts you? This is a very common feeling with MS, and it can plague you daily.  That is why in this month’s series, we are going to look at guilt directly and find ways to change how we feel about having MS.

What is Guilt?

Guilt is a very uncomfortable feeling, similar to shame. It comes on when we want to do something, and we are not able to.  What is important to understand, though, is:

Guilt is a demonstration of how important something is to you.  How much you value it.

You can’t feel guilty about things you don’t care about.  So when you are feeling guilty for having MS or for the things you can’t do because of its limitations, begin with the question:

What Values Are Not Being Met?

values and MS

Most, if not all those I’ve worked with that have been diagnosed with MS, value helping others. They have a strong need to be independent and not ask for help.  They have the drive to show how much they are worth and are very professional. And the majority strive to do the best they can in everything, even to the point of being perfectionists (or at least steering as far away from failure as humanly possible).

And yet, their multiple sclerosis doesn’t allow them to accomplish these values in the way they have all their lives.

Instead, because of their multiple sclerosis, they have to be guided by other values that had never been as important to them until now.

What Values Do You Need to Follow Because of MS?

shame and MS

Because of MS, it’s necessary to practice self-care.  You must face reality and logic and only do what is possible (and not more). It’s necessary to think long-term.  Manage your energy. If you use up all your energy in the morning doing laundry, you can forget to do anything later in the day.  MS makes it necessary to stop multi-tasking and, instead, focus on one thing and find the easiest route. As frustrating as that may sound if you re-read this paragraph, wouldn’t you say those values are healthy?

Do You Feel Guilty for Having MS?

If you feel guilty for having MS, you are trying to meet your most important values but are forced to meet your body’s values instead. So what can you do to let go of the guilt? Why not try to do both?

What Can You Do To Meet Both Values Sustainably?

values multiple sclerosis

By combining the values, you can develop different ways of doing things that accomplish what you value most while doing the things your body values.  Here are some examples:

  • Instead of doing physical work to help others, I could help others by really listening and acknowledging them so that they feel confident about themselves.
  • Rather than struggling to do everything independently when I physically can’t. I can be responsible for getting the professional help I need to get it done.
  • Instead of working 14 hours-days to prove to others that I have worth, I can focus on others and show them how valuable they are.
  • Instead of relying on my memory, I can practice using my phone calendar and reminders.
  • Rather than helping my family paint the house, I can be present and make sure they take breaks every few hours and drink plenty of liquids.

Value Health and Self-Care

Though multiple sclerosis is a challenge, it is teaching you to put yourself first and prioritize health.  Perhaps, that’s not a bad thing!

“Sometimes you fall down because there is something down there that you are supposed to find.” -proverb.

Learning to put yourself first rather than ignore your own needs, more concerned with what others think as well as feeling guilty for having MS are common personality trait in those diagnosed with MS. Do you want to learn what other traits you have in common?

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