When you’re chronically ill, you can’t always do everything for yourself. Sometimes you’re just too sick to do simple things like pick up groceries, cook dinner, do the laundry, or clean your house.
For someone that was previously used to having independence, this can bring on feelings of guilt, discouragement, shame, or embarrassment.
Learning to ask for help and graciously accept it has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn over the past few years. And I'm far from being perfect at it.
You didn’t choose to be sick
Remember, you never chose to be sick, you just became sick. You'd do anything to get better, but that's not always something you can control. Any decent person will understand this.
I found this quote on pinterest, and it has stuck with me ever since:
Once I realized that it wasn't my fault that I couldn't always take care of myself, it became a bit easier to ask those I trusted for help.
It's tough to give up your independence
Before I became sick with POTS and Intracranial Hypertension, I was very active and independent. I did pretty much everything for myself and I liked it that way. As you can imagine, the thought of having to ask people for help was daunting at first (even from people I was close to). The feeling of embarrassment was overwhelming for me. The rock climber girl was now the sick girl, and I hated that.
I realized that I was being prideful. I've always loved helping other people, so why shouldn't other people love helping me?
I still struggle with this pride, but I'm learning to overcome it and accept my situation as it is.
Sometimes I tell myself "I am sick. I need help. And that is okay."
When I get better, I'll do all I can to give back, and I'll have an understanding of what it's like to be ill.
Just because you can't do those things right now, doesn't make you lazy
It feels lazy to lay on the couch all day in your pajamas. There's no doubt about it. My life used to revolve around exercising, and now I'm in the house all day. I can't stand it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now.
I feel bad that my husband usually has to cook our meals, do the laundry, and clean the house—so much that I often try to do it myself and start blacking out after 5 minutes. It's frustrating, but it reminds me that I'm very sick and I can't do those things right now.
Try to love yourself the best you can. You can still live a purposeful life even from the couch.
Most people find joy in helping others
Consider this for a moment: Would you be happy to help someone in your situation?
I'm guessing your answer was yes. Good people enjoy helping others—allow them to have that pleasure. You'll likely grow closer to your family and friends as they help you (and you help them)!
Just because you can't physically help others right now doesn't mean you can't help them at all. Often people just need someone to listen to them and love them, and that is something that you can do.
Here are a few ideas: call an old friend, send a letter to a loved-one, surprise someone with a package, meet others online that have your same illness.
My dear friends, I hope you all can find the courage to ask for help when you need it. It gets easier. Then try to give back in ways that you're able to. :)
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback below!