Why we need to ask for help
As I lay there in my bed day after day, with hardly enough energy to get out of bed to go to the toilet, let alone walk to the kitchen to get something to eat, I could see the impact it was having on the most important person in my life, my husband Daryl. If I needed to get out of bed and get something, it took me about 1/2 hour to psych myself up to getting out of bed. Poor Daryl he was working full time, shift work at that, and was full time carer for an invalid, bed ridden wife. And so not used to seeing me like this. He really struggled to wrap his head around my illness, cause I had always been the strong one in the relationship. I could see it was killing him, physically, emotionally, and mentality. He was about to crack!
Having to ask him to do every little thing for me, grated my normally strong independent resilient spirit. But after months of being bed ridden, without energy to do anything but just lie there and think and doze all day, I knew something had to change. To make things worst just lying around I’d notice all the things that weren’t getting done that need to be done. My view out of my bedroom view is gorgeous, trees and garden. But then I’d notice things that were overgrown, garden beds with weeds 1m high, beds overridden with weeds. Then there was the indoor stuff, all those little things you take for granted that you can do because you have energy that you don’t even think about. Like being able to walk to the letterbox to get the mail, or bend over and pick something up off the floor, let alone, cook or clean for yourself.
Something had to change
Something had to change, we needed help but why was asking for help so bloody hard to do! If ever anyone else needed help I’d offer my help not a problem. I didn’t have a issue with offering help but asking for it, that was a whole other thing! But I could see that Daryl wasn’t coping and I needed to take the first step by asking friends and family to pitch in. The problem with that was, because I had a illness you don’t talk about because it was one of those illnesses that number one, I was embarrassed to talk about and number two, others felt uncomfortable and embarrassed to talk about, not too many people knew just how sick I was. It was and is an autoimmune condition, an ‘inflammatory bowel condition’. No one likes to talk about bowel stuff that’s just awkward!
So then I had two challenges ahead of me, when I didn’t really have the energy to do either. But somehow I managed to take that vital first step of reaching out.
I called on my courage, (something I learned from my mentor Dr Brene Brown, an American Research fellow, who is world renown for her research on Shame and Vulnerability, who encourages us all to call on our courage and be vulnerable, and constantly in the New York Times top 10 best sellers list) even though it was very uncomfortable, felt awkward, and went against years of independence, and years of just soldiering on, and asked for help.
New things are challenging
Those first few steps are always the most CHALLENGING and UNFAMILIAR, and I was totally blown away by the response. Once we opened those floodgates of our hearts to let people help us and love us we were overwhelmed by how much people loved us and were willing to do stuff for us. Even had people at Daryl’s work, who I didn’t even know offer to come and cook, clean, wash clothes or do whatever we needed.
People are really generous, we just have to give them a chance
I was totally GOB-SMACKED ant people’s generosity and love, I learnt 9 major things, (yes 9 there was lots for me to learn):
#1 EVERYONE needs a support network
#2 It’s ok to ask people to help
#3 You need to build a network (that means a group of people) because it’s way too much pressure on a few vital people or a best friend or a spouse and totally unrealistic and not fair to have that expectation of one or a few people.
#4 Sometimes when you ask (as much as they want to) they choose to say no. This is challenging to hear when you’re first starting to build a network and stepping outside your comfort zone.
#5 It’s ok for them to say no – they have a life and responsibilities too. This means the person you’ve asked has good boundaries, and you need friends/family with good boundaries.
#6 They feel bad for saying no, tell them it’s ok and you still love them.
#7 It’s our life and our responsibility to ask and get our needs met. Don’t expect others to ‘just know’ you need help. As much as they love you, they aren’t mind readers. They are busy with their own lives and stuff.
#8 It’s always ok to ask for help and we have to give people ALL the information so they can make an informed decision to help or not, so they can prioritize the things they have to do.
#9 Life is so much easier and way more fun with a support network becasue you know in your heart of hearts that people have your back and you only have to reach out and ask.
Example of how I ask for help – Clunky is Ok
Now I’ve got really good and had lots of practicing asking for help and have because of my illness built an awesome support network. Remember with anything new it’s going to be clunky because you’re learning so cut yourself slack. Clunky is ok, clunky is cool.
“I’m going to ask a favour because I don’t have the energy to do it myself, (fill in appropriate information here) I need your help to cook me a couple of meals and if you’re too busy that’s ok, I can ask someone else. Know I’ll still love you if you say no, and I know you love me even if you say no.”
Practice makes perfect
Enjoy practicing and I’d love to hear how you go, please comment and let’s me know how you go, and even ask me for some help if you need it.
Enjoy your life, it really is for living,