Compliment-ary Medicine

My Mum and Dad taught me many things, but two of the more important ones were: 1) If couldn’t say something nice, then it was better to say nothing at all and 2) sometimes it is not only what you say, but how you say it.

Living with multiple sclerosis can often be very difficult. In those times, we need all the help we can get, compliments included. Make no mistake, this is not me fishing for compliments, but is instead me telling you how genuine compliments help me continue my never ending battle with MS. As I thought about the compliments I’ve received over the years, I realized they fall into distinct categories. Below is my interpretation of the types of compliments that help, and the ones I’d prefer to avoid.

Sincerity goes a long way - I don’t know of any single person who doesn’t like to receive a compliment but to be a genuine compliment the words must be said with feeling and sincerity.

Long-term encouragement - My family and friends are my main armourers followed closely by my medical team, and I could not do without any of them; friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers also unwittingly, play a part in my battle. Many people in my life have complimented me on my independence and my positive attitude. Although some see those attributes as stubbornness and self-delusion in the face of reality, I believe that a huge element in the fight against MS is a strong, positive attitude.

A big lift - I have been told, more than once, that I am inspirational, especially in the gym! The fact of the matter is, I don’t always feel inspirational. In fact I’m just an ordinary Joe doing what needs to be done to try to stay one step ahead, but it is extraordinarily uplifting and humbling to be told that I am.

A little lift - I will be 60 years old on my next birthday and I accept that although it sounds older than 59, people still tell me I look young for my age! When these comments are made I usually pass them off as being one of the few positives of living with MS; I have been looking after myself properly for many years and my skin is reaping the benefits.

Silent, but just as good - Silent compliments are undoubtedly the most incredible that I have experienced. When I realize that my blogs are being read and shared in distant parts of the world, there is truly nothing better! I can only hope that they mean something positive to the readers. I find writing somewhat cathartic and it is great to know that others also benefit. Ronan Keating summed it up perfectly in a single line of a song “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”

For those of us living with MS, we know that it is a constant battle and that a little encouragement in the form of a compliment can go a long way. I like to think of a compliment as one arrow I like to have in my quiver as I fight to slay the MS monster.

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