FEAR; The Boogie Man of Multiple Sclerosis Emotions

The Unspeakable Bits; From A Life With MS 

‘Tis the season of witches a-broom, of zombies and ghouls and of vampires and ghosts. With Halloween just around the corner I thought it appropriate to bring up the things that go bump in the multiple sclerosis night. Well, maybe not the actual things, but our dread of them.

I don’t remember where I heard it first, but someone wiser than I once said that “fear is the opposite of hope.” Being that we all live our lives in hope of a good day versus a bad one, with hope for a cure and hoping that our generation is the last to hear the words, “you have multiple sclerosis,” it is only natural that we sometimes experience the through-the-looking glass emotion of fear. 

Fear – rational fear – can be a very healthy emotion, when taken as prescribed by nature.

Walking through the early forests and jungles, primordial man’s fear of being eaten by his equal on the food chain was a real and justifiable concern.

Irrational fear, however, is that little voice that I can only hear in the most alone times as I try to sleep. Irrational fear is the “what if, Trevis” that can whisper into my ear as a new symptom takes hold or an old nemesis grips me by the semi-recovered part.

This kind of fear can be a rabbit hole of extraordinary proportions and more difficult to exit than Pan’s labyrinth.

The key is, of course, to keep ourselves from taking that first step. As my Neolithic ancestors have, however, passed on that reactionary little part of my brain where fear is housed, I must find a way to cope with the times I do feel the MS tiger’s breath on my neck.

Just like a parent turning on a light and checking under our bed, I feel that addressing our fears in the bright light of the “inter-web” can be a calming factor. Even more calming than admitting my own fears is seeing that I am 1) not alone in having the fear and 2) reading of others' successful tactics of dealing with the things which I fear most.

No longer am I then a lonely wanderer, alone at the edge of night and day. I am suddenly a member of a strong and like-minded tribe. I can talk to people who have known and combatted my fears. They can show me not only how to recover from them, but also how to avoid their trap in the first place.

When FDR said that our only fear was “Fear itself,” he – as a polio survivor himself – must have known the grip that fear can have on a person. The greatest risk is that fear can freeze us in our tracks and keep us from moving forward in our lives, in our loves and in our pursuits.

I invite all of us to share one of your MS fears in the comments. It is not a weakness to talk of our fears, but rather, I’d argue, a strength. I also welcome respectful reactions and responses to one another in these pages. Like a fabled hunter regaling our tribe with tales of a successful quest, we too can take a little bit of fear out of our collective night and help one another get on with the living of our life – MS or not –with hope.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



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Trevis Gleason, Blogger

You can follow Trevis via TrevisLGleason.com, his Life With MS Facebook Page on Twitter and on the EverydayHealth.com “Life With MS” Blog. And also, check out his bi-monthly blog for the UK.