Monday, April 2, 2012

HAWMC 2012 Day 2: a quote that shouldn't be quoted

Today's HAWMC prompt is to write about a quote that inspires you either positively or negatively. I have tons and tons of quotes that inspire me positively, but I choose today to explore a quote that had a negative effect on me. Perhaps fortunately, I can't find the exact quote that I find to be so upsetting despite my best Google efforts.

I was in graduate school when I got the MS diagnosis. I was experiencing many physical problems and I was very open with my peers and colleagues and teachers as I went through this crazy new set of experiences. I am extremely grateful for the way everyone in the department responded and for the genuine care and concern they showed me. One teacher, in particular, really touched me with the concern he showed, probably because he was a generally stern and stoic character and I wouldn't have expected such tenderness. This teacher sometimes forwarded me things he had heard about or read that somehow related to health issues in general or MS in particular, a gesture I appreciated. One article, though, left a deep scar.

The article was about complementary and alternative treatments for various autoimmune diseases. I am very much in favor of holistic care, and so the premise of this article didn't upset me at all. What upset me was when at a certain point in the article it described the "MS personality" and discussed how these personality traits essentially caused the disease. I could have brushed this off as absurd - and part of me certainly did - but unfortunately the description seemed to describe me perfectly. Again, I don't have the exact text, but to paraphrase, the main points were being quiet/shy/introverted and being someone who suppresses their emotions and opinions. This certainly doesn't describe in full and doesn't describe me in every single context and at all times, but it does very much describe me.

The rational, logical me could instantly recognize the ridiculousness of this argument. But a part of me felt those words like a dagger, felt this was the truth. I brought this all upon myself. There was something inherently wrong with me, so wrong that my body was self-destructing!

Now, I hold no malice towards the man who forwarded me this article, as he may not have even read it in detail, and ultimately had good intentions. But I do wish the author of the article and others who espouse this kind of nonsense would realize the cruelty of their words.

I believe that your personality didn't cause your disease. And I usually believe that my personality didn't cause mine. But that quote still haunts me. And its scar is just as real as those that show up on the MRI scans. Words are powerful.

No comments: