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I’m not a warrior

By Mary Pettigrew

This article will probably be a two-parter. I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for some time. In fact, I’ve been pondering this for years and decided it was time to address it. 

I’ve been posting a few things on social media and have been taking some notes from comments about this topic during the past year. I recently saw a few friends of mine post about this on one of my online groups, so I decided to write.

Speaking as a person who has lived with an MS diagnosis for more than 21 years, I must say, there are certain words and phrases that have bothered me, annoyed me. But I have come to realize everyone has a different need, feel, and a take on the terminology directed towards them and towards others. When it’s a personal feeling or saying, then fine. When it’s a word or phrase put upon others, that’s a different story. 

Here are a few words and phrases that tend to stand out most:
  • Warrior: I am not a warrior. I am a person who lives with MS.
  • Survivor: I’m not a survivor. I am a person who lives with MS.
  • Fighting: I’m not fighting. I am a person who lives with MS.
  • Handicapped: I am not handicapped – see more about this in the link here. I have moments where I am disabled, but I am not handicapped.
  • Hero: Who really is a hero? War veterans are heroes. Police, EMTs and firefighters are heroes (and others who are life-savers).
  • Superhero: To me, a superhero is like a Marvel or comic book character – a character.
  • Champion: Equals “winning something.”
  • Battling: Again, this equates to war and warrior.
  • Brave: When strangers and even friends call me brave, I politely bow my head and accept their words, yet I know I’m not brave. I’m just a person who lives with MS.
  • Inspired: What is this supposed to mean? 
  • Confined (as in confined to a wheelchair): This probably bothers me the most. People who use wheelchairs, canes, and other mobility devices give a freedom to live and move about as humans should.
  • I Have MS, but MS doesn’t have me: This phrase has been overused for so many years. Now, I understand those who are newly diagnosed might like this phrase, but overtime, I’ve found it to be cliché. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this.
  • “We” have MS: This is meant to focus on the spouse or family aspect of living with MS. Although it’s true all parties involved have to deal with the trials and tribulations MS brings, only one person has it. Only one person has to deal with the day-to-day. If one is lucky, they might have someone on their side who will understand and be there, no matter what.
  • Journey: This is one I will accept. No matter what we go though as human beings, we are always on a journey.

Why do we use these particular words and phrases? Do we need these to feel assured, motivated, inspired, or otherwise? I think we all need something to help us find our path, feel empowered, or find a place in this path we call living with MS. 

Long story short, who you are is not defined by a certain word or commonly used phrase we see on social media or blogs. To each their own. I can only speak for myself. 

I am a person who has MS. I live with MS. 

That’s all, for now.