Before you agree with that statement, I want you to consider a few things. This client started drug therapy the day she was diagnosed. She exercises, has a great relationship with her neurologist and follows advice. She reaches out to other professionals for help – she signed up for my coaching program to learn how to effectively deal with stress from her job and family so she can keep going at her current pace. She is always seeking new treatments and staying on top of research.
Does this sound like denial to you?
No, me neither. But it’s an interesting question.
Are you in denial if you don’t think about MS every day?
Denial is characterized by a refusal to accept something, like a diagnosis. It’s also a refusal to do something, like treatment. Acceptance, on the other hand, is an agreement. It’s compliance to a request.
Nowhere is it stated that accepting something means you think about it every moment.
It can feel like our healthcare professionals and even the rest of the MS community thinks our MS should consume us. And if MS doesn’t play into every singe decision we make, that we’re in denial and not taking it seriously.
I would like to offer an alternative position.
I don’t put MS first in my life. It’s not even second or third. But that’s not denial. Not even by a smidgen.
It’s a choice to focus on the good and not the bad.
It’s a choice to put my wellbeing and myself first.
It’s a choice to make sure I’m feeling good first.
It’s a choice to make sure I’m in integrity with myself before I do anything.
These are the things I choose to think about on a daily basis. My MS doesn’t factor in.
How is this ok?
When I do what’s best for my wellbeing, my emotional health and my integrity, then my MS is taken care of.
When I do what’s best for my overall health, my MS is automatically factored in.
When I do what’s best for my family, my MS is unconsciously taken care of.
I don’t need to think about MS all the time. I don’t need to put my MS first in my life. I certainly don’t need to worry about all the bad things that MS may cause.
I just need to think about myself.
That’s not denial.
It’s a subtle difference. But it’s a difference that matters. Instead of trying to avoid the bad all the time, you’re trying to create something good.
It’s denial if you’re not treating MS.
It’s denial if you’re not facing your fears about MS.
It’s denial if you’re ignoring the fact that you have MS and aren’t putting yourself first.
But it’s far from denial if you make the choice to not define yourself by it.
It’s not denial if you don’t want MS to be the focal point of your life.
It’s not denial if you don’t want to talk about it all the time.
And from what I’ve witnessed, thinking about the good that wellness creates instead of the bad MS can cause is one of the most effective ways you can treat your MS.
Because focusing on your wellness means listening to your body. It means paying attention to your mind and honoring your emotions. It means knowing what works and what doesn’t for your health.
It means you’re human and treating yourself in the best way possible.
It means living in love instead of living in fear.
That’s actually the strongest form of acceptance there is.
What about you?
Do you think about your MS all the time?
Do you feel guilty for not thinking about MS all the time?
Let me know in the comments below.
It’s a conversation worth having with yourself. Because telling yourself you’re in denial hurts if it’s not true.
Labeling yourself as in denial takes the focus away from all the ways you are taking care of yourself. And it keeps you feeling helpless, instead of in control.
Whether you’re accepting your MS or are truly in denial, own it. Wherever you are is perfect.
Taking responsibility for where you are is the fuel you need for your next step.