A man sits on the ground with his head down while two people on either side of him offer their hands out to help him up.

Learning to Accept Help

Life with a chronic illness, like Multiple Sclerosis, can feel like a constant attack on our independence. As the disease progresses, it can be common for people to have an increase in the severity of their symptoms, leading to them accumulating higher levels of disability. This certainly isn’t everyone with MS, but it’s still a significant amount of people.

As time goes on, we need more help

At some point, even if our disease doesn’t force us to rely on others, time certainly will. The human body degrades over time, and for some, MS seems to speed that degradation up. As our bodies decline, we begin to require more assistance in our everyday lives. Accepting that assistance is not always easy though. Learning to let others help you is an important part of living with a chronic illness, one that is far from easy, but will make your life much more worthwhile.

I’m guilty of refusing help

I’m not immune from this issue, I have an incredibly difficult time accepting help from other people. It pains me that I need help; I’m a grown man in my early 40s, I shouldn’t need someone to pick up groceries for me, or cook me dinner, or help me up off the ground when I fall. I used to live a pretty independent life before my disease progressed, and I still think of those days whenever I need to rely on someone else for the basics of living. It attacks me in my deepest levels of pride when I am forced to accept help. In fact, there was a point in my life where I’d try to refuse every offer that came my way. It made me miserable, too. One time, I fell and was unable to get up on my own. Despite others trying to help me, I angrily refused them every time they came close. I laid on the floor for hours because of it, before I finally relented and accepted the help.

Pride can be the devil

I’ll say it, pride can be a pretty dangerous thing. It can be extremely stupid, too. Most of us grow up to think that those words are hogwash, that we should strive for pride in everything we do. That’s just not the case. Sure, sometimes that may be true, but when it comes to chronic illness, pride can be the devil. How do we benefit from refusing help? We don’t. However, most of us are raised to do it on our own, to not bother anyone, and to think that accepting help is a sign of weakness.

Accepting help does NOT make you a lesser person

I’m sorry, but that way of thinking is just foolish. You are not, in any way, a lesser person for accepting help from others. I cannot stress that enough. In my earlier example, even if I had accepted help right away, would that have meant I was a lesser person? Nope. By letting my pride get in the way, I simply wasted a chunk of my life by laying on the floor and pushing people away.

I upset others by refusing their help

Aside from my own condition at that moment, I also managed to upset others by not letting them help. Even if I had eventually gotten up on my own, perhaps I would have been proud that I accomplished it, but what did I really accomplish? I’d have expended energy that would have been better used elsewhere and still wasted time. In short, I was a damn fool because of my pride.

Learning to accept help

Accepting help doesn’t mean you are weak; on the contrary, it means you are smart. Life is difficult, there will always be another battle for you to fight. If someone can assist you in getting past one challenge, trust me, there’ll be plenty of others for your pride to fight later on. You feel bad? Yeah, I get it, but you forget that letting others help you can make them feel good. People generally want to help others. You can actually help someone by letting them help you. Don’t you feel good when you assist someone with something? I’m sure you do. You feel like you can’t repay them? Well, you don’t have to, by and large, that is not why people are assisting you.

I'm different not lesser

You deal with that by promising yourself to pay it forward and help someone else at a later time. Maybe you won’t be able to help them in the same fashion, but you will be helpful to someone, I guarantee it. The biggest key for me in learning to accept help from others has been to stop foolishly thinking that it makes me weaker, or a lesser person. I’m different, not lesser. It’s time to stop letting it make me feel bad. That’s not easy, but it’s important. When you start learning to accept help from others, you can finally start making an impact in other areas of your life.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!

Devin

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