Fear Of Being Seen

Fear Of Being Seen



fear“You gotta get out there.”

“Be more social.”

“Don’t shut yourself off.”


I’ve heard’em all.  And you probably have too!


The truth is, I’m not anti-social.  I just feel uncomfortable being in social situations, seated in my wheelchair, suited up like Iron Man with an AFO strapped to my leg and two canes hooked around my waist,

(Yes, some may think I’ll need the “Jaws of Life” to extrapolate the metal from my body!)


You just want to blend it
You just want to blend it


My fear doesn’t come from being seen by strangers.

My fear comes from being seen by people who knew me BEFORE my MS progressed to what it is today.


I thought I was alone in this thought till I met another MSer with the same fear.

She tearfully described her all-too familiar feelings.

She was an independent cuss.  (I believe we all are!)  Thus, accepting help & assistance was WAY beyond her being.  (Sound familiar?)

While out in public, she was afraid of running into someone she knew.  Avoiding the litany of questions like “Oh my God, what happened to you?”

So she shut herself off.

I commiserated.  I told her school functions were the hardest for me.  Assemblies, banquets, sporting events.

(High school football games have to be the absolute worst.  As I gimp my way up the steps of the grandstands, It’s all eyes on My Odd Sock.  Will he make it?  Is he in pain?  And yes, we have a handicap section, but the sight lines suck, so I trudge upwards to a better seat!)


Actual image from Odd Sock's MRI.
Actual image from Odd Sock's MRI.


I continued as best as my big, empty head could muster….

I said “Others aren’t afraid of seeing you, it’s YOU who’s afraid of being seen by others.”

The fear is of yourself being seen out & about in public.


Honestly, when you think about it, your friends & acquaintances would rather see you out (even with all your mobility devices)…rather than not see you at all.

They worry about you more when you are hidden away than when they can see you in person.


She seemed better after the conversation.  Her tears dried.  Her smile returned. 

And she knew what she had to do.


How about you?  Have you experienced a social fear?

What did it do to you?  And how did you overcome it?


One Man Band
One Man Band


Personally, going out in public has become less stressful.  I’m not as frightened now as most of the people I know have seen me rolling into a situation like a one-man band.

So it does get easier.  But it takes time to beat that fear into submission.

Let’s give it a good ass-whoopin!


11 Replies to “Fear Of Being Seen”

  1. Thanks for posting this one Sock. We all are in a much better place to just get out and do it and forget what anyone else thinks. I’ve said before, and just the other day with you, thinking of the old us will not make our future look or feel any brighter. And yes, I sure hope everyone that has taken part in these conversations continues to move on and and find their own MS Free Zone. MS is something we have to deal with, but we are not MS.

  2. I’m new here and your blog is entertaining to say the least! As my illness progressed, I retreated further and further into the confines of my home. Of course this concerns my husband and family, but for me, life “on the outside” is much too hectic! It’s sensory overload to take in everything around me and still concentrate on what I’m doing. Not to mention, deuling with senior citizens over motorized carts in the grocery store is exhausting : ( Since I’m only 36 and can pass for a teenager on a good day, I’m sure folks think I’m on drugs. And for the record, yes I am on drugs but Tysabri and all of the other meds keep me from looking really scary!!

  3. I agree with you 100%. I have major social fear for all of the reasons you mentioned. I have many “war stories”, but I’ll mention two. Two years ago I went to my 40th High School Reunion, same city where I live, so I had no travel excuse. It was the hardest thing I ever did since I started avoiding going out in public. I stressed about it for a year, but really wanted to go. There were going to be many friends I had not seen in 10 years, some even longer. I worried “Do I look fat in this wheelchair?”. I’m glad I went, but regret I was unable to mingle in my power chair as much as I would have liked. I kept telling myself, at least I’m not on the list of the 34 classmates who had passed away.

    The other social fear is going to the grocery store. The chain I like, has several locations near my house, and I choose to go to the one where I will most likely not see alot of people I know. I live in the city where I grew up, so I can not go anywhere and not see someone I know.

  4. I agree that it gets easier over time, but I still get stressed. The first time I took my scooter to a mall, wouldn’t you know it — I ran into a former student and her mother. I had to act “cool” while I made light of the situation, but the experience kept me close to home for quite awhile. Now, my good friends are accustomed to the vagaries of this disease, and they know each time they see me, I may be using a different assistive device. I try not to be a hermit, but I think I just go out for necessary occasions, no more spontaneity.

  5. Erica,
    Welcome to My Odd Sock…where you can actually hear your brain cells drop out of your ears!

    I agree with you & Margaret. The grocery store is the worst place. Like Margaret, I shop at a grocery where I will tend not to run into anyone I know. But I still do (cringe).

    Keep moving!

  6. Muff,
    Reading your experience of running into a former student & parent sends a shudder down my spine.

    I know the feeling—you get pretty good with a song & dance don’t you?


  7. Odd sock, you are a warrior! I still blend in most of the time. Except, last night I got lost at my sons baseball game. I went to the bathroom and came out and walked back to the wrong bleachers. I could not figure out where my husband and team was. I looked aroud panicked. Someone would see me “lost “. I figured it out and I think my hubs was the only one to notice my confusion…I wanted to puddle some tears (there are only 4 fields) hubs told me its ok, these things are just part of it. Gonna have to get out my can of memory whoop ass, except I can’t remember where I put it! 🙂

  8. I have gone to class reunions, my hometown and get togethers with people from school, I sometimes use a cane, always walk slower and have a slight “gimp” but I go out to enjoy myself and if anyone has questions, I answer them and move on. If they are uncomfortable with me, it is their problem not mine! I guess that seems a little pompous…so be it!! I am who I am!

  9. Just remembered something……Before I had to stop working, I was having to use my wheelchair. I was in the bathroom one day and the person said “Sorry to hear about your stroke”. I advised her I had MS. Even though I never hid my MS, made me wonder what other rumors were floating around the office building.

  10. Had my first public wheelchair ride while traveling home from surgery at NIH….close connections for flights would have been impossible on my own….at MSP, we always look for a familiar face…from the chair, I felt I should be drooling or have food spilled upon my shirt….a few eye contacts with smiles and nods….a lot of quick look aways, and then the obvious gaping…

    I’m happy to report I’m back to my peg-legged gimping self…..even finished the MS walk 2 weeks post surgery without the granddaughter and nephew bringing the wagon back up!!!! And I have a new appreciation for mobility and those who don’t have the option….

    MS = BS (Brenda-Shel….1st cousins with MS) Mom thought our new team name might be offensive to some…..MS is offensive to those of us who have, love, support someone with it….

    So, let’s just keep moving…one way or another!

  11. Shel,
    Great story. Yep, keep moving and be thankful you can.

    You have the perfect attitude about your MS. The rest of us aspire to have your mind-set. Unfortunately, it takes some of us a little longer to reach our goal.
    Thank you for proving it can be done!