Our Nurses > Ask a Nurse > Sharing when you are ready
Sharing when you are ready
January 21, 2014
There are two women in my social circle who have MS. We aren't close, but because our kids go to school together, I'll probably continue to see them regularly. Both have mentioned their MS to me when discussing travel plans or just in general small talk. They are further progressed than I am; one walks with a cane and the other has moved up to a walker.
The thing is, no one in this social circle knows I have MS and my symptoms are currently invisible (mostly vision issues). I feel a bit awkward when I'm with them, especially when they mention it. Part of me feels like I should confide in them, but they are merely acquaintances and I don't want to impose. Plus, I don't particularly feel like dealing with telling people. But, I'm starting to think that it will be awkward when and if my symptoms progress. Will they wonder why I never mentioned it before?
– Unsure How Much to Share
Nurse Claire replies:
I hear this from many patients who are worried about telling someone they have MS. A lot of times, patients feel that if they tell someone about their MS, they become the disease—it will be the first thing the person thinks about you.
The short answer is that you don't have to tell them if you don't want to. There's no unwritten rule that says you have to tell someone you have MS just because they have MS. Maybe you could be friends with these women. Maybe you would never be friends with them. The fact that you all have MS shouldn't be the only thing that determines that. Not telling them you have MS doesn't mean that you're denying you have MS. You're just being selective with whom you share that information.
I think you have to have a rapport with a person before you can build any kind of trust or friendship. If you don't have a rapport with these women, then I don't see any particular advantage in telling them you have MS because you're probably not going to be close friends with them anyway. With that said, if you do become comfortable with these women later, telling them you have MS won't be so difficult. It would also give you the chance to build a wider support group and let you discuss any challenges you might have. The most important thing is that you're comfortable.
— Nurse Claire, MS One to One® Nurse
Helping since 2013