Asking for help with chronic illness

Chronic Illness: Asking for help

Chronic Illness Asking for help

For some reason, we can be adverse to asking for help when we need it. I think this can occur for a few reasons.

The weakness self-stigma

The weakness stigma that we should be able to handle things ‘ourselves’ is something we begin to impose on ourselves by seeing and hearing it enough. This idea we should be strong all the time. And grin and bear it. And when we cannot handle things in whatever way that is or we are not coping well at all we hide it. We struggle and hide it and hope that if we just grin and bear it, it will just get better on its own. But sometimes things just don’t. And we need a little help along the way.

We are not worth it

Our self-worth can take a real battering with chronic illness. Partly to do with ‘failing’ to meet societal standards in various ways. Like ‘failing’ at a job, which is not a personal failing on our part but we take it as such. Partly it is ‘failing’ at personal obligations, which again isn’t our fault but we perceive it to be. We fail as a friend, a partner, a parent, or a family member. All of this makes us feel like we are just failing at like. And notice I use the word Failing a lot here. But it isn’t. It is a perception we have that sort of just nails us in the self-worth. When we should understand we have to pace, moderate, and make compromises when it comes to working. None of which is failing at like. It is a moderate, paced, mellow life. It is the life we lead. But due to this constant battering to our self-worth and this guilt we have, and even shame, we feel we are not worthy of any help. That we should be able to do things on our own and feel worse when we cannot.

We don’t want to be a bother

Frankly, this goes along with my second point. Because when you feel like you are not worth it, then you feel like Other people are not going to think your issues are important to bother with. So you don’t want to ‘make a fuss’, and you’ll ‘handle it yourself somehow’ and just ‘deal with it’. Because you are not worth the effort. But you don’t even ask so how do you even know what other’s responses will be?

We are stubborn or independent

When it comes to anything non-medical we want to solve the problem ourselves. Do a degree we all want to Adult on our own. And be independent. But sometimes we can be too stubborn and independent. To the point of refusing help that is offered. Help that we really actually need. But, darn it, we will accomplish it on our own. We have in the past and we will in the future. Not saying this is a bad thing either. This is a fine trait to have, but it can lead to some complications when we are really, really struggling on a level where we do need help and refuse it. We need to know when to accept it. My spouse asked for some friend’s help building a fence. Could he have done it alone? Hell, yeah, he could have with considerable more effort and time. But we gathered some company and made a thing out of it. It was a good day. Help can be a good thing.

And, finally, denial

This one crops up more than a few times in our life. We just do not want to accept something we are having a hard time coping with is a problem. A good example for me was when I was suffering from undiagnosed depression. I knew I had problems with my mood, especially in pain. But I refused to acknowledge it was a problem problem that I couldn’t handle on my own. With this, well, you can’t really ask for help for a problem you will not admit to. I’ll say this category is a tricky one for that reason. Denial is brutal with chronic illness. We lie to ourselves very, very well sometimes.

Asking for help with chronic illness

You have to acknowledge that your mental, emotional, and physical well-being matters. And you deserve a quality of life. And when the quality of life suffers there is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Some of the most important things I have done is asking for help from my doctor or going to a psychologist because I needed help for depression. I get help from my mom all the time. Sometimes it is just a ride to places because I can’t drive right now. Sometimes much needed financial help because my insurance company will not approve my leave and I cannot pay bills. I can’t do all these things on my own. My depression was a beast I couldn’t control. I needed help. I can’t drive right now. I need help. Sometimes I just need help. And you know, I always feel guilty because I do fit into that second category. My self-worth over time has slumped a lot. I’m an independent person who can’t even be financially stable. Yeah, guilt is there. And my self-worth needs to be worked on a lot.

But we do deserve pain management, mental health care, well-being, and quality of life. And, you know, it isn’t possible by ourselves. We need a support network. Our caregivers. Our medical team. A psychologist for mental illness or to help with pain management.

And we have to know beyond doubt that our well-being matters. So that we can ask for help because it is important. And we do deserve it. There was a time when I would do whatever my doctor said. Ignoring the fact my pain wasn’t managed. Because I didn’t want to admit to him I couldn’t cope with it and my care wasn’t sufficient. I thought he won’t believe me. He will think I am exaggerating and complaining. All my experience had told me I just wasn’t important and my pain didn’t matter. But pain does matter and I am important. And when I wasn’t coping with my pain I had every right to ask for help to manage it. Hell, I had every right to demand it. There is a time for asking and a time for insisting. And that had been a time for insisting. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to make a fuss. And I have to say things got substantially worse from there. We definitely need to understand we are worth it.

Other coping posts:

Be kind to yourself

Chronic illness and worry

Chronic illness and the art of pacing

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9 comments

  1. Denial; has kept me in survival mode but has stopped me from living. After 7 years, and with other’s help and perspective, i’m beginning to see how i’ll i have been. I am readying myself for further lifestyle changes . These step changes take time, albiet slowly.

    Like

    1. I too lived in denial for a long time. It is hard really to accept certain things. And, man, I can lie so well to myself sometimes. But I really had to learn the hard way, as we do sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another reason: other people’s denial or disbelief. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 10 yrs and chronic migraine for over 20 yrs. There’s still such misconception and false characterization about the illnesses. Much of society marginalizes those who have invisible illnesses that fall into what they consider the “lazy” category. I become so exhausted from explaining myself that’s it’s tiresome to ask for help on top of that. I have to remember that I, too, have misconstrued what it’s like to have an illness that I haven’t experienced personally.

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    1. I agree with every word! It is so exhausting trying to explain yourself to others, especially when they ignore your words and continue to discriminate against you.

      Liked by 1 person

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