Everyone needs it, but sometimes the hardest thing to do is to ask for help. Opening yourself up to feeling vulnerable, especially when you are already feeling compromised by your condition, can be challenging. It is important to remember; you do not have to shoulder it alone. Your chronic health condition may force your hand in making some adjustments to your everyday life, not only for you but those around you.
Depending on where you are on your health journey, you may need to think about asking your loved ones for a bit more support. It can be hard to admit that your condition is taking away yet another piece of who you used to be, but reaching out for help is necessary for managing your stress and comfort levels. You don’t have to feel ashamed for needing a helping hand (or two!) The National Alliance on Mental Illness reminds us that there is no right or wrong way to ask for help, but if you are looking for some motivation for starting these kinds of conversations, try these tips our members have recommended:
Be clear and specific about where you need help or support
When you ask for help, it is easy to feel like you are a burden and try and skirt around the complexity of your ask, so it doesn’t sound like “too much work” for the other person. Being vague can undermine the request and actually result in more work because they might not understand what you wanted them to do. Providing clear lists and specific directions can eliminate assumptions and any back-and-forth questions. It will also be helpful for the person assisting you because it takes out any guesswork. They can get right to the task at hand.
“I make a point write down exactly what I need help with. It is easier for me to hand it to someone on a piece of paper. I also can forget some of the things I need help with so, the minute I remember what I need, I write it on my help list. This way I, have it all in one place, and it is easy for my husband to look at it when he has time.” – PLM Member with MS
Be thoughtful about your approach and timing
Everyone is busy. More things need to get done than we have time to do them. When you ask someone to take on more work, it is best to be mindful of when you ask. Did they just have a long day? Are they more of a morning person? How do they like to receive information? Making a communication plan with the person in mind can alleviate some of your anxiety or guilt. It also helps the person be more receptive to your request. Simply ask yourself, what would make this person say yes?
“I held off asking for help with those things that I always had been able to handle on my own easily. Gradually, those tasks just didn’t get done, or if I did do the task, it cost me physically. Over time I no longer hesitate to ask my partner to take care of something. I only try not to do it as soon as he walks in after work. I usually ask he take care of something on the next weekend.” – PLM Member superfan02
Offer help, advice, or support in return
Being helpful does not mean all physical labor. There are certainly ways to help other than moving a couch or mowing a lawn. Just because you have a chronic condition does not mean you do not have incredible value. Your gifts and talents can be used to help people in a variety of ways. Offer up your services and support in any way you feel you can. Returning the favor or being supportive makes you feel good too!
Start a conversation with a PatientsLikeMe member
Receiving and giving help creates a caring community. It provides a sense of togetherness and power. There are thousands of members on the PLM platform who are sharing your experience or have a similar experience of their own. PatientsLikeMe can offer meaningful connections, whether it is asking for help or specific questions around medications or other related issues.
A few women have always been there if I had questions because they had already been through what I was currently experiencing. You can read through online resources all day, but it will never be the same as hearing from someone else who has that shared experience in a diagnosis.” – PLM Member with MS & CKD
If you still feel like you could use a little more guidance, read this PLM member’s experience of how opening up and asking for assistance helps her manage her PTSD.
You can find more opportunities for dialogue and connection at PLM today!