An unplugged battery icon. Instead of bars, there are spoons in their place.

It's Okay to Ask for Help

If you have read any of my previous articles, you know one of my faults is pride. I am a very independent person who is also petite and thin. I always feel like I have to prove that I am strong and capable. And it worked; until 2010, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Pushing through the RA pain

I spent a long time trying to push through the pain, disability, and flares. I needed to prove I was not that sick, but I found that the more I did things on my own, the faster I fatigued and the more I flared. My disease management was terrible. I learned quickly that my RA incapacitated me, and if I wanted to feel well, I had to pace myself and ask for help.

Asking for help

I’ll be honest with you. I still struggle with asking for help. I don’t want to be a burden on others, I don’t want to appear weak, and I do not want to appear disabled. Ironically, by pushing myself harder, I didn’t avoid these things; I became them.

People had to help me with the smallest of tasks because I couldn’t do them, I became weak from the pain, and I was more disabled because of flares. By asking for help, I eliminated those things. I had more spoons (these are the imaginary currency of chronic illness), energy, and fewer symptoms. I was a better person because I asked for help. I was more productive, active, and social; and I could repay the favors.

Needing assistance doesn't make me weak

There are still a lot of intrusive thoughts that run through my mind when I ask for help. I think the other person pities me. They cannot see what I deal with. They only see me struggle with small tasks for no apparent reason. I also worry that they are judging me. I look well enough, so why can’t I do such a simple while Monica does seemingly harder things? I still feel weak, I still feel disabled, and I still feel like a lesser version of myself.

The benefits of leaning on others

But, when asking for help, I must remember that it does not show weakness or inability- It shows strength, it shows a connection to others, and it shows enlightenment and humbleness. I acknowledge my limitations and I admit them. I am stronger because I haven’t futilely wasted spoons and I connect with and put my trust in another person.

I also show that I cannot do absolutely everything by myself and can ask for support. This is so funny to me because I have rationalized asking for help. It makes sense, and I know I am better off with it. Yet, somehow, I slide right back into my proud nature and consistently talk myself out of reaching out to someone.

I'm putting myself first

I am working on it, though. With help, I conserve spoons. With help, I can grow closer to people because I am vulnerable. With help, I am not stressing my body further, and I am respecting it to stay healthy.

Do you ask for help? If not, what stops you? LMK in the comments!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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