Damaged Goods

Author’s Note: Not everyone with multiple sclerosis experiences each and every symptom we know can be caused by the disease. Likewise, not all of us experience many of the difficult emotional issues that MS can bring. Just because you haven’t felt the things about which I write today, I would ask that we all show respect to those who have and are feeling them.

The approaching holidays can be a bright and wonderful time of the year. It can also lead to some tough times for people living with MS. While friends and family gather to bask in the warmth of the season, we can sometimes feel “less-than.”

No one would want a gift from the damaged and discounted goods table; why, goes the faulty logic, would someone want us?

For people in supportive and loving relationships, this may seem like an unfounded worry. But even I hear whispers of the little voice of doubt creep into my head in the dark hours when I am alone with my thoughts.  

And, let’s face it, these fears are not unfounded.

Dating and relationship-building is tough work in a culture of perfection. We need to whiten our teeth, wear expensive clothes and pretty shoes if we’re going to attract a potential mate. How are we going to find and then pursue Mr. or Miss Right if we have optic neuritis or use a forearm crutch?

Being overlooked for a year-end promotion can be easy when the bosses see us in a wheelchair. Family may continue to ask more of us than we can deliver during the hectic holidays, or they just stop asking (or talking to us at all) all together…

For many of us, our financial situation has been compromised by MS.  Whether it’s lower income, high insurance costs or the price of medications; budgeting for gifts can make us feel more like Ebenezer than Elf.

We know it’s not logical to think of it this way, but sometimes it feels like it’s Christmas on the Island of Misfit Toys and we are destined to be marooned there for the rest of our lives; unwanted, unloved, and damaged misfits.

I have no cure for this sentiment. I can only offer to you the hard-fought knowledge that we do have worth and value, and that we can enrich the world around us if given the opportunity.

I urge those in our community who are finding this time of year to be particularly difficult on any level to reach out to your local chapter of the Society or to an MS Navigator (1-800-344-4867). They will be able to help you to find resources to get you through the difficult patch and off that island.

It is strength – rather than weakness – that leads us to ask for help when we feel alone, unloved and damaged. I have been there and can attest that my local chapter made all the difference in the world for me.

My name is Trevis Gleason and I live with multiple sclerosis. I may have a few things wrong with me, but I’m far from “damaged goods” and so are all of us.

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.  

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  • troy mandeville   Dec 19, 2013 9:55 AM
    Love the article I two have ms and its hard too explain too people without it how we feel thank up for expressing this
  • Nary Sims   Dec 19, 2013 10:10 AM
    Thanks Trevis. I feel like that too. Sometimes when my family and friends call me and I may sound a bit sleepy in the middle of the day because of the muscle relaxers I took a few hours before, instead of asking how I'm doing, they sometimes ask in disgust, "What's wrong now?" God, I have to pretend to feel good when I answer the phone! I didn't call them. Anyway, enough of that... Happpy Holidays and a New Outlook for the New Year. Many Blessings ..Mary
  • mhinze07  Dec 19, 2013 10:15 AM
    You had me at faulty logic!! It makes me feel somewhat realavent :-)
  • marg1331  Dec 19, 2013 10:17 AM
    Good attitude but very difficult to put it on the back burner.......it's always on your mind.
  • Erin Musser   Dec 19, 2013 10:23 AM
    Trevis always puts the correct spin on everything since he is honest and compassionate about this subject .
    Thanks Trevis !
  • Linda   Dec 19, 2013 10:37 AM
    Thanks for being so honest. I had a "best friend" who accepted me the way I was, but now he passed away and I have to go back to being alone and unwanted or as he says, "broken". How in the world can I carry on?
  • Jeannine Czop   Dec 19, 2013 10:41 AM
    Thank you Trevis! I have many of these thoughts and feelings throughout the year and more so now that I have had to stop working. Even though I have been dx'd for 23 yrs, things are always changing and new feelings come up that have to be dealt with. This was a nice reminder I don't have to do it alone.
  • Hanya   Dec 19, 2013 10:49 AM
    BROKEN: Forcibly separated into two or more pieces - yes I feel like that. I feel broken, and the resulting feeling that spiral from feeling broken. Thank You for this piece.
  • Lori Love   Dec 19, 2013 10:59 AM
    Good morning glories! Yes, I have felt this way many times, but I try and think positive and get on with my life. Past relationships have dwindled and moved on for something better, me, myself and I! Learn to feel comfortable and accept yourself in your own skin, in the long run it helps. I must admit somedays are better than others, but everyone has that problem.
  • Jane Britton   Dec 19, 2013 11:08 AM
    Thank you Trevis for putting into words what a lot of us are thinking/feeling!
  • patricia murphy   Dec 19, 2013 11:18 AM
    once again from a great note from trevis,yes we are broken goods to some ,but i am refuseing to let anyone treat me like soo ,ive given to societhy and will try too still do it in the future,ive gone down that dark road and i found some friends and family helped me out in small ways and out of no where.the holidays are very stressful indeed ,but i chose not to let the material things bother me this year ,its all about been with the people you love ,spending that precious time with them .i wish everyone a merry christmas and a happy and healthy new year,and thank you trevis for all your help through the year ,you are a kind person xxx
  • Joan Jordan   Dec 19, 2013 12:01 PM
    Loved the article Trevis! You verbalise a lot of the thoughts flying around in my head. Happy Christmas to you
  • Lynn B   Dec 19, 2013 12:22 PM
    When I was diagnosed with MS in 2002 I was 44 years old, I thought my MS was just starting up but as many of us have experienced your MS is not in the beginning stage it's changing to SPMS. After the confirmation and extensive questions, my neurologist suggested that my RRMS probably started in my late teens but because I was an athlete, I lived on the beach, always in the sun I was unknowingly putting my MS in remission. Anyway to get to the moral of this story, after 2002 my world pretty much died. I was a top producing Real Estae agent and the bread winner of my family. My now ex husband (finally) works for his mother at there Greek Restaurant in Claremont. I provided a very privileged life for my family after growing up with many challenges it made me feel great to provide. Private school for my two girls, winter in Durango Colo or Mamouth Ca, summers in Maui and spring break at our place in Palm Desert Ca. After my diagnosis I think I cried of a broken heart for at least three years. My girls were 8 & 10, no more running 25 miles a week, skiing, biking, no more giving my girls all the experiences I had planned for them. With my diagnosis all my life plans were just wiped out. It was like I had this big chalk board with an exciting to do list written down for the future but instead of checking anything off the list as we went along, I put a big nasty dose of MS in a spray bottle, sprayed down my chalk board with all my hopes and dreams then took a roll of paper towels and wiped the board clean, gone gone gone all gone. My marriage wasn't good so now that I'm ill and not bring home the bacon it would self correct, my divorce started June 2009. Even though half my life was in bed he wanted spousal support. He said he wanted to be kept in the same comfortable lifestyle as he was a custom to. The divorce dragged on for three and a half years while he searched for hidden money that didn't exist. Most of my friends are gone, once the party planner now I try my best not to socialize. My two beautiful girls turned on me, there 19 and 21 now. The younger one tells me I like to play the victim or why don't I get a job like the rest of society. My older daughter has sever anger issues and has been physically and verbally abusive to me and my ex wanted to make sure I walked away penniless ( his culture). Tis the season what do I do, should I or shouldn't I buy a tree for my self? I told both my girls they are no longer aloud to come over because of the way they treat me. Happy Holidays to all, we will all make it some how, each of us having huge challenges to over come and society to bare.
    "Life will break you but the strong get up, the stong heal and the strong are stronger in the broken places". I do plan on staying strong even though it's not easy or fair. I desperately want my old life back but I know it's just not possible but a cure would be a great start!
  • Cathy   Dec 19, 2013 12:31 PM
    So true Trevis. My husband wants to know why I am so negative. Lets see. Is it because I can't drive myself to go Christmas shopping & everyone else is too busy to take me. Is it that since 2008 my husband has been unemployed & we are now struggling to pay our bills, or is it just the day to day struggle of not being able to do the little things that other people take for granted. Who knows. All I know is that I can't wait for Christmas to be over and that's sad. I used to love Christmas
  • James Marshall   Dec 19, 2013 12:45 PM
    Thank you sir for what you wrote. I have MS and few other conditions as well including a bad heart. I just got out of the Hospital today " I was in ICU for a few days " my heart was tired of beating. It's going again now thank God. My wife and I have been together for over 25 years now but sadly she doesn't want to be with me anymore. I'm disabled "obviously" and can't work. I have nothing to offer any woman except love, and sadly that's just not enough. But thank you any way for the nice words. I mean that. You're a kind man. I wish all the best for you. But I'm destined to be alone.
  • Susan Russo   Dec 19, 2013 1:01 PM
    I was invited to a party for my friend's 80 year old mother. I know I won't make it. It's a long drive and I don't know how I'll feel that day. I sleep a lot lately. Fatigue in the afternoon makes it hard to socialize. I do feel broken, but not useless. I do what I can and try to care for myself as best I can. I miss cooking, shopping, driving and socializing this time of year. I will not give up hoping for a cure. Until then, I take one day at a time and trust in God.
  • Tracy Morgan   Dec 19, 2013 1:23 PM
    I know what mean
  • Bobo   Dec 19, 2013 3:43 PM
    I too could list what isn't perfect this Christmas season. But I choose to look at what's good enough-friends, family, pine smell, Santa at the mall with a line of excited children, the neighbor who shovels the sidewalk, chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, blankets on the bed on cold nights, Christmas music on the radio, and o ly one IM shot per week that is keeping the MS in remissiom. It's there but I make the choice to be happy. Go as fast and as far with your cane or walker as possible. Have a safe holiday. Cheers.
  • Jenny   Dec 19, 2013 4:16 PM
    I love this post for its honesty.

    I was diagnosed with MS about 1 year ago. But I know that MS has been silently waging war against my body and cognitive abilities for at least 13 years. Like EVERYONE on the planet, I have regrets about choices I have made in my life and disappointments with situations that were inflicted upon me (by ex-spouses and ex-bosses). But honestly, what I regret most is that I did not do more with my time and talents before the MS started waging its war out in the open. All I know now is that I do not want to look back 13 years from now and have regrets about how I spent the time and abilities I have today. That's all I can control.
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    Terry123  Dec 19, 2013 4:22 PM
    Great article, Trevis. I wasn't diagnosed until my late fifties, but all through my twenties and thirties and forties my mother in law would ask "How are you? You like tired. Are you sleeping?" If I said I was okay, she would continue, "Why just okay? Why aren't you fine? You are young and ought to be fine all the time." She died two years before I was diagnosed, belatedly because I had no time to go to the doctor for my own questions until our parents were gone and our children were grown. In truth, I am better now than I was in those younger years. I'm retired, and can get up later in the morning. I can rest when I need to during the day. I can eat what and when I want without having to fit it into a classroom day and a school cafeteria. I don't have to commute to work every day. My MS symptoms seem minor compared to some, and I spend more medical time and money chasing the malignant melanomas on my back and arm. Who knew?
  • Carolyn C   Dec 19, 2013 4:28 PM
    A fine post and a good reminder to look to what we CAN do and not focus on what we CAN'T do!
  • Tara S.   Dec 19, 2013 4:52 PM
    Hearing from others in similar situations lets me know I am not an "only". It isn't fun being ill and having a not-so great holiday season to look forward too. You would think that over a decade since my diagnosis I wouldn't feel alone anymore. Thanks for the eye-opener and I will count my blessings not my curses :)
  • Caycee   Dec 19, 2013 5:23 PM
    Thanks for the article! I needed that so much!
  • Cherylanne   Dec 19, 2013 5:25 PM
    Thank you for sharing this I as well have MS, and its so hard for family members to understand why my emotions are up and down hope they never have to find out. This is a scary disease that's for sure so unpredictable. but we all just have to make the best of it and not let it take over us! I am trying so hard and holidays do make me sad at times for I am always alone. I decorate and put tree up and no one comes to see it at all so this evening I just figured why bother any more going thru all this extra work. Well any how Merry Christmas to all ! and wish all who have this better health in the new Year !
  • Shelley   Dec 19, 2013 10:37 PM
    Wow, did you hit the nail on the head. I'm divorced now, major due to ms, It's so depressing because you know if it weren't for the ms, you could be considered a catch and have another chance at happiness. But, who in their right mind would want the possible, probable future I have to offer? You here lots of healthy friends say how hard it is, and then theirs the thoughts you already feel what your future won't be like for you. I wish I was wrong
  • Jan   Dec 20, 2013 12:54 AM
    The unpredictability of this disease can really be a challenge. Fortunately for me I found a wonderful man and was married last April. We are a support to each other as he has CML leukemia. He's my rock and I am his. Fortunately I am still working as a nurse and he takes care of the shopping, laundry, etc. I am blessed! He went to my last neuro appt and saw my MRI and the Dr. Told him more about the disease. He was concerned for me and my future, not his own. I sometimes tease him and ask him if he'd like to trade his CML for my MS. He declines as he watches the Avonex injection going into my leg with the needle! I suppose his bone marrow biopsies aren't much fun either. This year and for the rest of my life my goal is to show him how beautiful life can be. Even the littlest of things. When one of us gets fatigued we head for bed and another episode of Law and Order! Christmas will ALWAYS be a special day for me. Jesus was born and I'm grateful for his suffering for all of our sins! Merry Christmas everyone and don't forget to count the good things in your life. I've had MS since 1979. Still fighting, still giving it my all! Merry Christmas!! Namesta'
  • Lisa   Dec 20, 2013 7:35 AM
    The financial part is the downer. We lost my income when I was unable to go back to my career. My husband is irritated and angry at me all the time lately. So I feel he has the attitude of what is wrong now? . I've been very depressed lately. Well more so recently. I feel like I've lost myself this past year,
  • northwesternviews  Dec 22, 2013 4:28 AM
    I am a musician and I seek to perform again. I still keep up with my craft and I seek to be an example for our community
  • Virginia   Dec 23, 2013 7:51 PM
    I do feel damaged. After 21 years at the same job at a doctor's office, it was suggested that I retire because I keep making mistakes-"before I make a major mistake". I have been thru lots of loss in my life-death of my dad, mom and my husband. I have moved to a house on one floor to help my walking and have a walk-in shower now. I just feel lost during this time of year-even though my kids live with me--now what to do?
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    hanyagordon  Jan 13, 2014 4:34 AM
    My source of anxiety is the overwhelming, overpowering, devastating fear that I am not good enough. That negative feeling. That nagging doubt. That constant sense of not making the grade. That isn't good for anyone. It certainly isn't good for me. I may not be the best, but I am doing my best. I am trying to be the best that I can be, and surely that is good enough.