I have always had a hard time asking for help when it comes to my health. For a very long time, I tried to do everything myself and resisted emotional and physical support. In the past few years, I’ve started to feel more comfortable asking for what I need and not feeling like I have to be so “strong” and “independent.” It’s been incredibly beneficial to my health and my relationships.
When I moved in with my girlfriend almost 5 years ago, she started helping me with chores and activities around the house. She saw how much energy vacuuming or mopping took out of me and insisted that she take over these duties. At first, I was resistant because I felt like if she did a lot of the cleaning, that would mean I wasn’t pulling my weight and that our relationship wasn’t equal. She reassured me that I contribute in many other ways that are just as important and helpful. Physical contributions are not the only things that matter.
This has helped me feel more comfortable being honest with my friends and family about what I need. When I have plans with someone and need to cancel, I’m starting to feel less guilty about that. If I need to ask for accommodations for a social engagement like meeting up at my house instead of a restaurant so I can rest on the couch, I ask for that. These small changes make such a difference for me and cause very little inconvenience to the other person.
I’m also trying to be more open emotionally about my health. I’ve struggled with wanting to appear like I have it all under control, and it’s just too much pressure. Even though I’m very close with my parents, I haven’t always been upfront if I’m struggling.
In the past few years, I’ve called my mom and cried to her about how difficult it is being sick, frustrations with doctors, and medications. I’ve seen how much it helps to get these things off my chest and not feel like I have to keep it all in. When she offers to make calls for me or do research, I take her up on it instead of immediately saying no.
In general, I’m trying to change my mentality on the idea of asking for and needing help. I think we’ve been socialized to see it as a weakness. Everyone needs help; what that help is varies from person to person, but it’s all valid. We can’t be expected to do everything ourselves, it’s not possible and not necessary!
Being sick is a lot of work every single day, physically and emotionally. If you have people in your life that want to support you, you should accept it! I don’t think twice about helping my loved ones when they need it, so why do I think others feel differently? It doesn’t mean I’m a burden and it’s not a moral failing. When I think about real strength, asking and accepting help is exactly that.
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