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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Professor

Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Multiple Sclerosis Institute
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Weill Medical College of Cornell University

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New York-Presbyterian Hospital
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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
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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Has MS Made You a Hermit?

By Laura Kolaczkowski

Lately I’ve noticed I could care less and less to get out of my own space and socialize, and it takes something special to motivate me to gather with friends or family either in person or even on line.  It’s not that I don’t still like (most of) them – it’s just I find I have no desire to go. This partially has to do with energy levels as well as my own attitude toward solitude.

Needing help can be exhausting

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown tired of the looks on the faces of others when they insist on helping me when I can do whatever task it is at hand.  Yes, their offers are well intentioned, but like a  I want to scream ‘I can do it myself!’ whether it is  to carry my plate of food from the buffet line to the table or simply pick up something I’ve dropped on the floor.  Sure MS makes many of those actions slower and tougher for me to do, but it’s still good for me to do it for myself.  I know these people mean well, but  it stirs my mood, and by avoiding these situations altogether, I feel better or at least less confrontational about my accumulating disabilities.

Social media can take a lot out of you
I certainly understand why any of us might want to hunker down and not interact with others, particularly out on social media these days. I find myself avoiding Facebook unless necessary because so many people believe there is no longer a need for civility or facts.  I like to think I understand and have respect for facts and then assume others feel the same but this past year or so has been troubling to realize facts mean nothing.  This applies to politics and cures for MS – both are fraught with lies, half-truths and worse.  The same goes for civility and kindness – I can usually ignore the comments from strangers who want to read my writings and then hide behind the anonymity of the internet to tell me I am an idiot, but the harsh social commentary that has come from people who I always thought of as compassionate and caring, is jarring and make me want to retreat further. MS is enough of a monster to live with – I don’t need to allow more beastly actions into my space.

Socializing can be overwhelming
We’ve lost friends and family this past year, some to death and some to other reasons, and the circle where we felt comfortable to just be ourselves has grown much smaller. I want to gather and enjoy playing cards or having dinner together without considering what conversation might arise next, or if it’s ok that we have to leave early because my energy reserves are gone.  As you may already know,  I am not one to bite my tongue and rather than risk uncivil words of my own, it’s become easier to exchange fewer words  fewer opportunities. Being with a large group doesn’t help  because the sounds and activity are difficult if not plain disorienting and wear me down sooner.  We are likely to arrive late and leave early, which makes us less than desirable guests.

MS is exhausting
Then there is my ongoing desire to just rest.  Are you tired?  I know I am.  All of this has worn me down and toss in a good helping of MS fatigue and it adds up to me just always feeling beat up or beaten down. Just getting through the everyday chores has become, well…. a chore. It has been a long time since I’ve felt energized and powering through, which has been my usual style of getting by, is becoming much more demanding.  Deciding when to power up and when to shut down is not such an equal choice these days. It is much easier to power up my computer, spend time with writing and  than make the effort to power through with personal interactions and daily activities.

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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