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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
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The MS Persona

I am not sure how many of us do this but I know a lot of us do, I mean, I know I do. You wake up and you just know it’s going to be a horrible day; you are dizzy, exhausted and in a lot of pain. Then, as the day goes on, someone asks you, “Hey, how are you doing?” but rather than telling the truth you put a smile on and say, “I am ok, what about you?”

Sound about right? Well, why do we do this? Why not just be honest? Well at least for me I think if I was totally honest every single time somebody asked me how I am doing then people may stop wanting to be around me because, “Matt is just too negative.” So I often just say I am fine while hiding behind a smile. A fake face, a mask, a persona. I am the super happy and positive guy! Right? Well, sometimes? I am actually in horrible pain, I am exhausted and I feel hopeless. Who wants to be around that? And who wants to be volunteered as a therapist? They just asked how I was doing…

Another reason I would rather do this is because it is just easier on me. I don’t always have enough energy to try to explain something to someone that I just tried explaining to someone else. “What is spasticity?” It’s not always as simple as, “I am good” or “I am not so great.” I am pretty sure when someone asks me how I am they are not expecting some long lecture on neurology and how my disease is making me feel today. A lot of this stuff is not even relatable to the average individual so then it becomes a game of trying to find the right analogy to make someone understand that “it’s not the same as when you lost your keys…” It’s frustrating which is tiring…

What really has had me thinking for a while is when I thought, “who am I?” I realized that I don’t entirely know where “the real me” ends and the “persona of me” begins because 90 percent of my life feels like I am just hiding how I really feel to spare the people around me. Not just how I feel physically though, maybe I hear someone say something and before I say the first thing that comes to mind I have to stop and think, “Wait, I can’t be all bitter because of my life situation, people don’t want to hear that, be positive” and maybe that’s healthy but all those negative emotions build up. It stays with you and then when you actually find someone who really does want to understand how you actually feel you unload on them, you just need to vent, you overwhelm them and possibly push them away because they realize, “Wow, that was a mistake.”.

This is why I am sure I need a therapist. I am sure most of us are just trying to survive but more than likely the way we are “getting through the day” is not healthy. A therapist might have a much better solution than hiding behind a mask. It’s like when you go to physical therapy and they tell you that because of your spasticity you are walking “like this”; the human body always tries to adapt to change by doing the easiest thing possible to achieve whatever you are trying to achieve. The easiest way is usually bad for your body and will do more harm than good in the long run. So you have to do what’s hard and try to learn how to function properly again. I imagine the mind is the same way and hiding behind a persona is easy but probably not good for you.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MULTIPLESCLEROSIS.NET
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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