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

It's Okay to Ask for Help

Last updated: December 2022

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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