I’ve been sick for weeks. It was a cold I got from one of my kids. The grown-up child got over it in a couple of weeks after medication and all. I never even got all the symptoms of the original, and yet I’m still coughing and coughing and so tired – probably from all the coughing. Plus, a characteristic of MS is persistent fatigue. That tired feeling is something I’m accustomed to, and how it gets worse when combined with complicating factors, but when I’m sick with something else it gets so much worse.
So, my doctor came to the house to see me. Yes, some doctors do still make house calls. There aren’t a lot of them, at least in my area, but they do exist. I’m still taking what was prescribed … and still coughing. I’m making myself crazy already with this.
More than anything, I hate that this is just one more thing I need to ask for help with.
“Can you please make me some hot tea?”
“Can you please put the soup cup in the microwave for me?”
“Can I have the antibiotic please?”
“Is there any cough syrup left?”
“Can you give me the other medication the doctor prescribed?”
“Can you please get the white box of cold pills from the bathroom cabinet?”
“Can I have more tissues please?”
“I need to eat something with this medicine. Could you give me a protein bar maybe?”
All that, on top of whatever else I need to ask for, or for help with.
When you become disabled, one of the most difficult things to deal with is the fact that you are living a new reality. When it’s a progressive disability, you might think you’d get used to it more quickly. Somehow.
But you don’t. (Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s my truth.)
When you’ve always been a self-sufficient person, your instinct remains to say, “It’s okay. I’ve got it.” And at times, that is absolutely ridiculous. If you are physically incapable of doing something, that doesn’t mean whatever it is can always be ignored.
Just because you can’t make breakfast doesn’t mean you’re not hungry in the morning.
When you hate having to ask for help sometimes you end up overcompensating in other ways to make up for it, even if you don’t realize you’re doing that. You might be too nice, too generous, too forgiving, too abrupt, too cranky, too anything at all in an unconscious attempt to somehow balance the scales or change the dynamics of the situation. Try to stop tormenting yourself in those ways.
Asking for help puts you at the mercy of someone else. Then, if they do help you, even if they do whatever it is completely horrifically, it’s awkward to say “Thanks, but you did it all wrong” or “Thanks, but that’s not what I asked you to do.” The recipient of the assistance doesn’t want to be ungrateful, but is help that’s not helpful really help at all? Asking for help means relinquishing control, and that’s a tough thing to do. When you manage to relinquish control and everything gets screwed up or is just not done correctly, the resulting frustration can be overwhelming.
Asking for help can make a person feel that they’re being needy, or that others will perceive them that way. It’s humbling, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s frustrating. Aggravating. It can slow you down. It makes you feel like a pest or a bother. The person who needs help may feel like others see them as incompetent – and some people will see them that way.
What do you do when you need help but hate to ask for it?
The answer to that question depends on a lot of different factors. Here’s a very basic example: Everybody needs to eat or in some other way take in nutrition. If you don’t do that, you can’t go on living at all. So, if you can’t prepare whatever you need to ingest, you have to ask for help. Similarly, if you can’t get your nutrition into you, you need help.
If you can afford to hire some help, some people find that a little bit easier than asking friends and family all the time. It’s not inexpensive to do that. And, if you’re in a situation where you need help, you probably have many other expenses you are also dealing with.
If you’re somebody who needs help a lot, you’ve probably learned how to plan ahead and think of all kinds of possibilities for every situation. For example, when I know I’m going to be alone for a stretch of hours, I try to make sure I have extra items within reach that I might possibly want or need. Will I need four beverages, two power bars, two telephones, and 10 issues over a 4-hour time span? No. But I want to be prepared ‘just in case.’ Planning ahead prevents more problems.
Get out of your own head and remember that everybody needs help sometimes, in some ways. It can be very hard to remember that – but it’s true.
Remind yourself of things that are within your realm of ability. Even the smallest things count. Your abilities or disabilities do not determine the quality and value of you as a human being.
Independence is a beautiful thing. There is no disputing that. If you can’t be as independent as you used to be, as you want to be, or as you hope to be… That’s okay. You are just as important as anyone else, and there’s a very good chance you’ve developed some unique perspectives and wisdom because of your situation.
Is this an issue you had to deal with in some way? Perhaps you need help, or someone you care about does. How do you handle it? Please feel free to email me at email@example.com about that or anything else on your mind.