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Asking for, and Accepting Help

Asking for, and Accepting Help

Accepting help is not something I’m good at, but I excel at being stubborn! I am fortunate to have people in my life who would drop everything and lend me a hand, the only problem is that I never let them. I’m a fiercely independent spirit and it crushes me to make excuses, cancel plans, or ask for help. However, as you all know, when you have MS there are times when you need to put your health above your pride. MS has been a humbling experience for me. No matter how relentlessly I tried to deny its presence, or to push through the pain it always seems to be stronger then my willpower. I finally began to see how self-defeating it was to suffer health consequences out of sheer stubbornness.

Ever-changing needs

I get frustrated easily when I find myself vulnerable or in need of assistance. This can spiral and lead to a complete breakdown in communication with those around me. MS has taught me that spouses are not, in fact, mind readers and that you do need to actively communicate with them…I know, shocking! But I’ve found that the most challenging part about communicating my needs (aside from the fact that I don’t want to), is that they change from day-to-day! This is just as frustrating for him because unless I explicitly tell him how I’m feeling, and what I need help with each day, he is stuck trying to guess and anticipate my ever-changing needs. He always rushes to my aid whenever I work up the courage to ask, and helping out makes him feel good because he cares about me. The problem is that it makes me feel inadequate and weak to need help opening a jar or with taking out the trash. However, I’ve learned that when I refuse his help and stubbornly insist on struggling on my own, or if I work myself into the ground, it makes him feel inadequate. I’m starting to see that when I let go of my feelings of inadequacy and my fear of showing weakness, I get a stronger relationship and partnership in return. Luckily my husband is very patient! In fact, the only time he yells is when he sees me not taking care of myself or refusing help. This used to baffle me because he loves my independent spirit and strong will (most of the time)! Then I realized that when I choose to neglect myself, I’m really choosing to neglect our partnership. The days of pain and fatigue that follow my “overdoing it” effect us both, and impact both of our lives.

Have suggestions for how loved ones can help

In addition to my husband, my friends and other family members are the key to my success. They often ask what they can do to help, but more often then not I don’t really know what to ask for in the moment. I’ve heard similar feelings from other people with MS, or even from families going through a hardship. People always offer assistance, or say “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” but we hardly ever have a meaningful, productive response at the ready. Then, inevitably, we come up with an idea later after the moment has passed. Well, why not have a few ideas at the ready? Next time someone throws out a “let me know if I can do anything to help” I’ll have a few suggestions in my back pocket. Can you pick me up from my MRI? Do you have any suggestions for a good book to read during my infusions? Are you willing to pick up a few items for me at Costco the next time you go (I love Costco, but it’s an exhausting errand!)?

I still have a lot to learn, but I’m starting to feel like I’m on the right track. Does anyone else struggle with asking for or accepting help?

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Comments

  • Pat
    4 years ago

    I too am very independent. I hate the fact that I need to ask my children to take me places. They all work and have their own lives. I always have to have someone with me if I have to get out of the car to go into a store or a restaurant. I can’t go anywhere by myself if I need to get out of the car. I retired from my job after 17 years because I had to have help getting out of my car to go inside the building and then to get back in the car when I got off work. My job was my livelihood. So I have to learn now how to ask friends and family if they can take me where I want to go. It is a hard thing to learn when you have been independent all your life and to go when you want to go!

  • Niina3
    4 years ago

    I too am independent and super stubborn. I struggle to ask for help, cancel plans (lord knows I love to socialize and be around family and friends), I can’t stand calling out of work. I’m not sure why. I too work in the Heathcare field and tend to put others first, never ask for help…I don’t even bother my Neurologist office when I am experiencing new symptoms. I know this is bad but my thought processes comes from a good place (they are busy there are patients who need there time more than I do). Change is a working progress.

  • Dianna lyn
    4 years ago

    I am VERY Independent, therefore, I ask my husband to do little things for me, not big ones. The big ones are the hardest to ask for, so I have learned the hard way. But, I take out the garbage when he doesn’t, and etc. I think the hardest part is asking a friend to pick up something at Costco. They usually over charge me for the favor, get the picture?..so, I now make sure I have the list on my phone of everything I need at Costco. What I don’t appreciate is all the questions, I can’t answer these questions (important ones) when I am in severe pain. Like for instance, I know I have to pay my phone bill, I can handle that, don’t ask me, even though, I had probably asked my husband to remind me a week ago. As for chores, I have to keep moving constantly or else, I would never get up again, period.

  • CatMom
    4 years ago

    I’m very independent, too. Plus my husband gets exasperated when I ask for help. So I guess I have a double whammy. Who wants to ask for help under those circumstances? Not me.

  • linda walters
    4 years ago

    My husband acts like I am asking for help more out of laziness of which I have never been lazy for more than a moment. I have been diagnosed since 95 but began with signs 20 yrs before that. I have been blessed that I am just beginning to show I have some sort of health issue. But I still don’t look “handicap” people around me really have no understanding of Ms and explaining to them is sometimes like talking to a wall. Thank God we can get on line n share. Its the only time I get to talk. Thank you for Sharing

  • charlie-tca
    4 years ago

    It took an older able-bodied person to explain to me that by refusing to ask for help, I was denying others the opportunity to feel better about my disease. I can’t explain how it was said, but it made sense. We, as the individual in a position to know when we need help, must learn to ask for it. It improves the relationships we have with others by allowing them to assist us.

    I have explained it to my own friends and family that when I say “No, let me try today”, they must let me. If I say “I need help”, no matter what I have accomplished or how I look today, please help me. I also let them know that I do not need many questions about my ability each time, I simply need them to listen to my own requests.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator
    4 years ago

    Stephanie,

    We are very similar. I’m also fiercely independent, persistent and some would say stubborn. It’s not easy to ask for help, especially for things that I could do so much more quickly and easily than the person who wants to help if I were feeling 100%. Too often, I just like to get things done myself without waiting on others.

    I have found that it gets easily inside the home if I do have quick and easy things that my husband can do for me, especially if they are not entirely time sensitive. For example, he may ask what he can do and I’ll suggest that if he takes the full laundry basket(s) down to the basement, I’ll do laundry while he’s gone and he can bring up the clean clothes later.

    Having a quick list of things people can do for you is a great idea. I’ll be curious to see what other recommendations people may offer.

    Lisa

  • Story Maker
    4 years ago

    I have had MS for 33 years, and asking for help is still a self-conscious process for me. I have a hard time doing it, but interestingly enough I often find I’m glad I accepted, or asked, for help. This characteristic would have been with me even if MS hadn’t come to visit.

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