I watched the most amazing TedTalk. It was a deeply profound, life-altering talk about coming out of the closet. Because, we all have closets.
Ash Beckham calls herself a “Speaker and Professional Lez.” And she is amazing and wonderful. If you have not seen her 10-minute talk to a Boulder audience, do yourself a favor and watch it right now. Because she is talking about you. All of you.
Aside—If you are not a regular listener to TedTalks, you are really missing out. At the risk of pulling a Rand Paul, this is what I cribbed from Wikipedia: TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Their slogan “Ideas worth spreading” stems from their mission to use ideas to start discussions, and discussions to start change. You can find these talks on YouTube, their website or their podcasts. Pick the ones that sound interesting to you. You will not be disappointed.
Second Aside—I swear that will be the first and last time I ever compare myself to Rand Paul.
Anyway… Ash Beckham’s talk went viral. And it struck home for me in an unexpected and beautiful way.
“We all have closets,” she said. All a closet is “…is a hard conversation.” She said these conversations are scary and we hate it. And they are conversations we need to have.
This TedTalk dovetailed beautifully with this article I read by fellow MS patient Cathy John:
In this article, she describes the difficulty of disclosing a permanent, debilitating, chronic illness to the world when your symptoms are invisible. She writes about how her medical team advised her to not “rush into telling people” about her condition. Her advisors described to her that the public was woefully undereducated about this disease. And the solution to that was to not share her condition.
Wait… what? Let me say that again. They were advising Cathy that the problem with “coming out” with MS was that the general public didn’t know about MS. But their solution to that was to NOT educate them about MS?
Let me just clear up something. You know someone with MS. You know someone gay. You know someone in an abusive relationship. I guarantee and promise that you know these people, even if you don’t know these things about them. You know someone with a secret that they think is so dark and terrifying that they stuff it deeper and deeper back in that closet.
In the words of Ash Beckham, “A closet is no place for a person to live.”
I am, of course, MS-out with my family. My Dr. Sister knew before I did. My kids (that would be my Kidlet, my awesome nephew, and amazing niece.) know that my brain has some plaque that is not so different than the plaque on your teeth. The medicine I take helps me brush it away.
Last aside, I promise—I actually have three amazing nieces. But the younger two are little and will have never known me as NOT having MS.
I gave my family full permission and rights to tell anyone and everyone about this. So the information is slowly making its way through the outer edges of the extended family.
I am kind of out at work. My immediate team knows about it. They have to know. I have too many doctor appointments. I miss too many team meetings because I am getting an MRI, or some such nonsense. HR knows, because they are helping set me up with FMLA should I ever need it.
I am out and proud at Derby. My derby family knows about the MS and loves me because of it. When I tire after 20 minutes on skates, they encourage me to rest and get my ass back on the track. They all know that it will take me longer to become good, and they encourage me to keep trying every day.
Skating is the strangely magical time that I can both completely embrace and completely escape the MS.