Why I Don’t Need Your Pity

Written by on September 16th, 2014 – 2 Comments

Anybody that knows me, also knows that I am a HUGE fan of TEDTalks. If you don’t know what TED is, it’s an international organization dedicated to spreading ideas and innovation around Technology, Education and Design (see what they did there?).

One of favourite recent talks is one by comedian and disability advocate Stella Young. In her talk, Stella talks about experiences she’s had in her life that have led her to see that in today’s society, disability is being objectified as a form of what she calls “inspiration porn”.

This talk, the Disability Studies course I took last year and my own experiences have led to me really question and interrogate cultural perceptions of disability, and my own understanding of how people look at me when I loud and proud say that I have a disability.

Since being diagnosed, I have noticed a wide range of different reactions and responses when I tell people that I have MS. These range from genuine support to curiosity/a willingness to learn and one reaction in particular that I can’t stand.


Normally, that conversation goes likes this.

Me: I have multiple sclerosis.

Other person: Awww, I’m sorry. 

No. No. No. Stop.

Don’t apologize. Don’t saw “awwww” and feign support.

You didn’t cause my MS. And you apologizing won’t help anybody, much less you or I. Now I understand where this sentiment comes from. People that respond with this may think that by me having MS, my quality of life must suck.

However, I also recognize that I am very lucky. While I have a disability, I am completely able-bodied 99% of time. Even people that may experience symptoms on a more frequent basis, pity isn’t the answer.

While daily injections isn’t my favourite way to start each day, I am dealing with having MS the best I can.

Do you want to show support? Participate or attend an event from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Be constantly curious and educate yourself. And realize that since everyone is different, and everyone’s MS is different, to truly understand how you can support me, you should and can ask every person you meet how you can be an ally.

So thank you for trying to show support, but pity is not the way to do it, so I don’t want it.

2 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Reacting with pity and negativity doesn’t help a soul but empowerment can go a long way. Stay positive and keep moving forward =)

  2. kirstimarie says:

    I love this post! I absolutely HATE it when people pity me. Pity makes me feel as though people look at me as a write-off. We have MS, but there’s so much more to us than that, right? We can all still have an amazing, fulfilling life – I sure do! Rather than pity us for the challenges we face, I wish people would just commend us for having the strength to face those challenges head on and keep moving forward.