String Cheese And The Frustration Of Relying On Others

String Cheese And The Frustration Of Relying On Others

As I write this, I am waiting for a friend to stop by my house to give my awesome dog Ferdinand his morning walk. The past couple days, my legs just haven’t wanted to work, not consistently anyway (that’s a thing that happens to me sometimes, but not the purpose of this article), so I needed some help to get my pupper out and about to take care of some business. As I waited, I couldn’t help but get that feeling that has so often bugged since I was diagnosed with MS. That massive feeling of frustration I have when I have to rely on someone else to get the most basic of needs taken care of. Learning to accept that I need to rely on others has been one of the hardest parts of this disease for me.

Getting help is tough for me

Getting help, for even the simplest of things, is tough for me. I admit it though, I need help at times. Sometimes I need someone to carry my plate from the kitchen to the table, because maybe I’m not walking great or my hands are having problems. I often need help opening items (damn you string cheese wrappers!). Other times, I need someone to help me with my dog, like today. Or I have to go somewhere, anywhere, because I don’t drive. So yeah, I’m not exactly the most able-bodied person, which is why I was put on disability.

Relying on others

Just the fact that I am on disability sticks in my craw. I fought hard against it, even knowing that it was the only real option. I resent it every day though. It feels like I’m relying on others for my livelihood, even though, in theory, I’ve paid into it for years and years before needing it. I want to be able to work, I want to be able to walk my dog, and man, I really want to be able to open my own string cheese. Not being able to do things, whether it be make my own money or open my own fun and delicious cheese snack, just drives me crazy! It can take me on that rollercoaster ride of emotions, where I get angry, depressed, anxious, embarrassed, disappointed, and frustrated, all in the span of a few minutes.

I have always been independent

At first, I was going to talk about how this is all even worse because I’m relatively young, or because I’m a man, or because I’ve been at this MS thing for a long time, or because I look perfectly fine on the outside. But honestly, none of that matters. I think I’d be just as frustrated, disappointed, and upset about having others help me, no matter what my life situation was. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, which makes my current situation seem intolerable at times. Even if I needed help with something in the past, it was OK, because it was always on my terms.

It’s not on my terms

That’s really the source of all this I guess, that when I have to rely on someone else, it’s not on my terms. My body forces me to accept the help of others and that upsets me. No one likes to be forced to do anything. I begin to feel like a slave to my disease when I have no choice but to rely on the help of others. It’s also the biggest thing that makes me feel like I’m different than everyone else. It’s a massive reminder that I’m not “normal” and that life isn’t going as planned. How many 40 year olds have trouble opening a string cheese? (ok, maybe there aren’t really a lot of 40 years olds enjoying string cheese, but if that’s the case, trust me, they’re missing out).

Trying to be gracious and accepting

I imagine I am not alone in all this. Having to rely on help from others is probably a blow to the pride of many. While it’s unpleasant, I try to look at the benefits. Putting our pride and other emotions aside is extremely tough, but important to living a happy life. So I’ve been trying, for a while now, to not only be gracious, but to be more accepting when others are there to help me. I try to focus on the benefits, and I also try to look at is as just another way of adapting to my disease. Accepting help from others is in no way giving up, which is another feeling that nags at me. On the contrary, it’s a way of continuing the fight any way we can and not letting the disease beat us. Accepting help from others makes you more of a fighter, not less, because you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep going. When I think of it like that, it makes it a lot easier for me to handle. So by all means, someone please open my string cheese for me, so I can keep the fight going, and also enjoy a delicious snack.

Thanks for reading!

Devin

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (36)
  • Lupe
    4 months ago

    Oh boy, do I relate! It IS difficult for an independent person to accept help from others but after several years of dealing with this horrid disease, I’m beginning to understand that I DO need help whether I want to admit it or not. I have finally succumbed to this realization. To make myself feel better, I repay the helper, who happens to be my live-in boyfriend of 22 years, with little things I can do such as ordering out whatever food he has a hankering for. To someone else, this may seem like a stupid act, but it’s the easiest way to show my appreciation so he does not have to cook dinner after spending a day doing “my” chores like grocery shopping under a thunderstorm. Thanks for sharing. It helps me realize that I am not alone and very grateful that I do have people who care and only want to help.

  • Lupe
    4 months ago

    Oh BTW, I do have problems opening string cheese snacks and other plastic containers.

  • chong61
    4 months ago

    You just wrote my story. The having to ask or accept help is the most damaging part of this disease. I liken it to MS took away me.

    I have had my diagnosis for 18 years and my husband took on a heavy load. He also was the one that drove me to the big city for doc visits. On 11-25-2015 he passed away unexpected after 58 years together.

    I have children and I know all will do whatever helps me, but dang it, it breaks my heart to have to depend on them. They have a life, children and grandchildren so, I tend to cancel all appts. with the exception of my number 1 doctor.

    I suppose I will never get used to having to ask for help with minute things as well as major.

    So, since I have never had string cheese, I am going to try it. Just as soon as I make a list for someone else to go buy my groceries.

    I also have been very capable, intelligent and able to take on any chore. Not any more and I think that feeling is worse than all the pain MS brings my way.

    As I said, MS took away me. Don’t get the impression I am doing the “oh pitiful me act,” because I am not. I am living each day to the best of my ability and trying to make sure something makes me laugh or smile each of my remaining days.

  • ClumsyMumsy2
    4 months ago

    Okay, let’s face it, the inventor of string cheese wrapping has never met ANYONE with a disability. On the plus side, I don’t think folks without challenges can open those things either.
    I have days where, believe me here, the walk from my couch to the bathroom seems worse than a hike up Pike’s Peak. I wish I was kidding. Currently, I have to work still as I am the only active income in the household. There are days where I hide in our bathroom or stay in my car longer to “pity-cry”-it actually helps.
    Yes, you paid your money into the disability, please never feel you don’t have a right to it! That is why it is there and I am sick and tired of some people calling it “entitlements”- your are DURNED RIGHT we are entitled to it, those of us who paid OUR taxes are the ones who paid into it.

    Sorry, that is a beef of mine 🙂

    You are not alone, I am over 50 and love stringed cheese even if I need a chainsaw to open one. Disability is a right and not a privilege in our country currently (even for trust-fund babies). Having those willing to help you is a reminder that you have touched or helped many in your past. I am with you in spirit, but getting up to cheer will have to wait until after my nap. 🙂

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thanks so much ClumsyMumsy2! Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  • lightweaver
    4 months ago

    Thanx. It is a great visual for me, I have lost independence and over the years friends have drifted away.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you lightweaver!

  • Walter
    11 months ago

    Thanks for your sharing experience with MS. In the last week I’ve had trouble opening string cheese.
    Plus my hand will jump whIle typing on my phone.
    Thanks again for your article.
    Walter

  • patti dorval
    11 months ago

    Devin I really enjoy reading your pieces. My life seams to mirror yours. I always forward them hoping that maybe the special people in my life will get that ahh ha moment! Thank you for making me feel not so crazy or at least not alone in my craziness.
    The more I think of the design flaw in the string cheese wrapper the more I wonder why! Why! What engineer in the packaging dept thought that was “convenient packaging”? And riddle me this. How come all the different types and brands, those 2 little hard to grab flaps are the product standard! For get the build a better mousetrap! How about the build a better string cheese?!

  • dminva
    11 months ago

    I used to be a person that would try to do everything for everyone, I enjoy helping others and seeing new sides to relationships beyond the surface. When a time came that I needed help but didn’t want to ask a friend noticed and offered to help. My personality was to say “no thank you, I don’t want to inconvenience you, I’ll figure it out, it’s not that important “ etc. Finally that friend said “please don’t take my blessing or the blessing of others that try to help you”. In other words, you are not the only one who benefits from allowing others to help. It might just make their day sometime to feel like they helped someone.
    (It’s still hard but I’m getting better. Sometimes I say okay but only bc I don’t want to take your blessing. I then share the story I just told and the response has been everything from a laugh to a hug to a puzzled look, but it was never negative). Hope this helps even one person.

  • Erin Rush moderator
    11 months ago

    That’s a really great perspective, dminva! What a way to allow your friends and loved ones to bless and be blessed by you! It can be hard to accept help, especially when you are the one used to helping others. I think it’s wonderful that you have been able to open yourself up in this manner. That shows a lot of maturity and wisdom. Thank you for sharing! Best, Erin, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member.

  • Moezambeak
    11 months ago

    Devin, this is a great article I felt like you were talking about my sister. She feels the exact same way although she cant get to the acceptance stage. She still believes she will walk again like before. How do you mentally get to the stage. How do you accept that, is that giving in. Do you lose hope when you do that. I have been trying for years to get my sister to join support groups or read message board but as you said when its not on your terms that’s tough. Thank you for the good read

  • dkilgore1
    11 months ago

    I believe this amongst all the adjustments I have made living with MS is the hardest for me. I was always the one helping others and tending to the needs f everyone, I didn’t need any help. I have had MS for 20 years and up until 5 years ago, I was mostly functional and then the permanent damage started coming.

    I hated asking for help! I have learned so many things in the MS journey, patience, residence, compassion but this has allowed me to truly ‘see’ the good in people, who are more than willing to help me. Sure, I run across people who are not helpful or understand, but I find triple that amount who will.

    Thanks for the article and know that even in our struggles, there is something to be learned.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks so much dkilgore1, sounds like we have a lot in common!

  • traybanay
    12 months ago

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. I was diagnosed in October after struggling with symptoms for some time. My father raised me to be an independent woman who doesn’t ask for help. You just bite your lip and carry on. Since my diagnosis, I have came more and more to depend on my family. My husband and children are quite gracious about it all. It stings a little when I see the tiny look of embarrassment on my ten-year-old’s face when I ask for her arm to navigate myself down steps at her school. She is a child and doesn’t quite understand. I also see the questioning. look on adult’s faces that says “are you drunk? Why staggering about?”. Then there are those things that no one else CAN do for you. I am afraid to pick my three-year-old up because I could fall with her. I can’t always take my children to the park, especially if it is warm out. I can’t play because my head hurts. The list goes on.

    If anything, MS has taught me to cherish the moment and do not beat yourself up over your limitations.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thanks so much traybanay! One thing I think many of us learn, even reluctantly, during our battle with this disease, is to cherish every moment!

  • Shollay836
    12 months ago

    I feel the same way! Sometimes I just break down and cry!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you Shollay836, I think many of due that now and again, which is OK, as long as we pick ourselves back up and keep going!

  • Debrahoff2
    12 months ago

    Hi Devin,
    Thanks for sharing your stories. Thoughts, and feelings. I am currently in the hospital and I share you feelings about MS. I am very scared even tho I have been dealing with the every day.woes, on manageable level for the most part. For the most part no one ever knew I had the sneaky disease. Yesterday I had seizure and woke up in an ambulance. I was overwhelmed with sadness and thankfulness and emabarrassment. But realized that those that helped me we’re truly happy to help and that I shouldn’t feel bad that my illness caused such Strife. It was an awakening that it is ok to need help and people really do want to help. Now I am hopeful to be out of here on Xmas Eve. My kids 7 and 8 don’t understand why I’m here entirely, and at their age, I don’t want them to worry about anything but being able to sleep on Christmas night.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you Debrahoff2! I’m so sorry to hear, and I hope you are recovering. I’m glad you have made the realization that accepting help is ok!

  • DeniseC
    12 months ago

    Before a diagnosis of MS and the rollercoaster ride that goes with this, I had an epiphany. My sister was reading a book, one of those inspirational ones. The book spruiked about how you would like people to remember you. Was it as the old lady with the walking stick telling off the kids for trying to sit on the bus seat or, was it as the little old lady that was so sweet that you would go out of your way to help her.

    I am in my 50’s but MS has definitely taught me the power of being gracious. All those lessons my parents taught me like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are part of my repertoire on a daily basis. It is through the pain and frustration of this condition that I am beginning to see that I am not my own. My actions and attitudes feed into the way that those around me perceive me but also perceive others with disabilities.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thanks so much DeniseC! Those are some very wise words!

  • Monk
    12 months ago

    The other day I cut(tried to) my own hair. I think every strand was a different length. When my dad and sister saw my new hair cut they readily offered to help cut it for me. With a bad hair cut you don’t even have to ask for help it just comes!
    Cheers!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you Monk! I have had a very similar situation in the past when cutting my hair too! 🙂

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you so much Alysongayle! I very much appreciate you sharing that!

  • 12 months ago

    I hope I can make sure that I have the correct language in ths response. The person that I can get help to get my ability for asking for assistance and care was a large amount due to a complete different look. My hair experience, as I truly am not able to say anything to encourage or discourage but, thought I would share the ability of the exuberant feeling to have had more than just one independent choice but two. 1st: I decided on my own will to be able to change my hair length and have a choice to get a new color. I decided to do both!! I could not be coaxed into keeping my long brunettes hair. My hairstylist began to get a chance of getting to work with me girl who said “chop it off”! I had gotten th twiggy pixie cut and I am so happy to see this one great chance for the future me. I am going through a whole bunch of new issues with me and my “be a person” mentally awho is truly just understanding thefact rhat hair is Alyson great deal of the day you wake up. It was so helpful to be in my own place and to get help from my own life supporting team but the person with whom I can take control over my own life and get out of my way of my life again. The process is ongoing because the multiple types of mentally and physically emotionally I am going to be a lifelong learner on how my lifestyle and identity crisis is really a great choice to seek help with a more active role in the ability to make sure to take care of the future of prioritizing the way I communicate to my personal life with my own ability to be a better person and to make more special connections with you allowing me to be more active member. Not sure if I got off topic but I am hopeful that it is possible that we will have our own life with our own decisions to be in the process of being able and to make sure that Yvan find a way to be our own independent choice of any such thing as the way that is possible to be a learning experience for the future. Alyson little Nervous for the first thought that I am not sure if this makes any sense at all. Thank you for being able to help me with my own hair story I have been able to get all of my words to be said. Again, not quite sure I was even able to make it to the point that I was going to have a chance to explain the way of how helpful and understanding of what hair is and how you feel free like a bird and letting go-I-as Lynard Skinner

  • MSDani
    12 months ago

    I love your posts and by way of the posts, you. I feel we are facing similar struggles both internally and externally. What you wrote today really resonated with me. I have had to stop working just when my career was taking off in my 40’s. The last two years that I have not been working have really eaten into my self-confidence. I am in process of signing up for disability and fighting it with every fiber of my body. But I’m realizing there might be positive aspects to getting approved – think healthcare. Your writing causes me to reflect on your situation, my situation, my day, how I’m managing, if there’s is anything I should be doing differently. Thank you for sharing.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thanks so much MSDani, I really appreciate that. I hope you do look at the positives and apply for disability. There are still many opportunities for us after that, we just have to open our eyes a little to find them.

  • Kristaljk
    12 months ago

    Thank you for this post. I’ve never been one to ask for help. Ever. Even when I’ve needed it. Recently diagnosed, and also recently divorced and single mom-ed (all within a weekend’s time), I spent five months without curtains because I refused to ask for help to hang the curtain rods, but I couldn’t quite trust my balance getting up on a chair anymore. I haven’t told many about the diagnosis, so asking for help seems even more challenging. But last night, I gave in and let a friend’s husband come hang a few curtains. It took him no more than an hour and I got to visit with the friend while he tackled it. I felt bad, and like I was inconveniencing him, and like a failure because I couldn’t do something so simple. At 35 years old now, I’ve been fiercely independent since I was a toddler, so MS is quite the pill to swallow with the unknown looming ahead. But it helps to know I’m not alone. Heck, if I need help opening some string cheese soon, at least I know I can count on my kids, for whom I have opened string cheese for years. They owe me, right? 😉

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you Kristaljk! It’s so challenging to ask for help, remember though that most people want to help and don’t know how. Many times, like the case with your curtains, allowing someone to help out with something has unexpected bonuses for both of you. I’m sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis and divorce (I have had an experience like that recently too: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/ruin-my-marriage/)!

  • joannmaxwell
    12 months ago

    Teeth come in handy!! I always love your posts and this is no different!! I am my mother’s primary care giver–she is 90. So trying to be strong for her and take care of myself has been an interesting juggling act!!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank you joannmaxwell! Teeth certainly do coming in handy! I wish you well, it sounds like you do have quite the juggling act going on! You sound strong enough to handle it though!

  • chalknpens
    12 months ago

    I lost my husband last Christmas morning. This week I broke my arm in an indoor fall. I have many friends who want to help, but I don’t know how to ask. One younger friend has offered to sit with me and make a list of things I need help with to keep next to the phone and read to those who want to help. I will try that.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    12 months ago

    I’m so so sorry to hear that chalknpens, you are in my thoughts. I hope you take your younger friend up on their offer. As I’ve said, it’s very hard for me to ask for and accept help. But doing that is all part of fighting this disease, it makes you stronger, not weaker. I know you from previous comments over the years, you’re a strong person, you can ask for some help. In addition to reaching out and accepting your younger friend’s offer, try not to be afraid to reach out to others. In my experience, many people want to help, but aren’t sure how, and need someone to open the door for them. Remember you are not alone!

  • DonnaFA moderator
    12 months ago

    Hi Chalknpens. I’m sending warm thoughts and gentle hugs for this difficult season. And I’m so sorry you are achy and in pain. I’m sending healing wishes as well. Asking for help is one of the hardest things many of us do, especially if we are used to being the caretaker. I think your young friend had a brilliant idea, and I’m so glad that they generously shared. That’s an awesome first step in accepting help. Please remember that we’re always here for you, to lend support or just to listen. -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • joannmaxwell
    12 months ago

    My prayers are with you!!

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