Saturday, February 18, 2006

MS and Fear-The Terrorist Within by Ira Lipsky

I see similarities between the fears of the victims of deliberate terrorism, and the fears I face everyday. Like them I am in the grasp of a terrorist. My terrorist is a disease not a person, yet they both act in similar ways. For example:

-I never know when an attack is going to occur.
-I never know what the extent of the damage will be, or how long captivity will last.
-There is no reason or logic I can appeal to, my captor doesn't care.
-People not in my situation can only offer support, they cannot identify with me.
-My family and friends are frightened, frustrated, and angry because they cannot rescue me.
-My fate is in the hands of bureaucrats and specialists, who while looking at the "big picture" tend to forget that I am an important part of my own small picture.
-My fear can make me act irrationally, and I will grasp at any straw to gain freedom.

However, people with MS differ in a life saving way from the victims of terrorism, because we KNOW that a terrorist is lurking within. That knowledge gives us a sense of power and potency which can be enlightening and protective. As much as we want to be like everyone else, and take good health for granted, we can't because our bodies are held hostage. But no chain ever made can bind the psyche, our minds and spirits are free. This is not a distinction to be taken lightly. Throughout history people have survived against seemingly overwhelming physical odds, because their minds and spirits were strong. A commitment to self-worth and survival can endure relentless bombardment.

We will not succumb to the terrorist within as long as we believe in ourselves and maintain our dignity. With a firm sense of self and the support of our families and friends, we may know fear, but don't have to be dominated by it. Living on the edge as every person with multiple sclerosis does, we must learn how to balance, when to move, and when to let life's winds blow on by.

© Ira Lipsky

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