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Asking for Help - Do It

"Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill." We've all heard the saying. It’s the world’s way of telling us not to make more out of problems than they are, and try to see things in perspective.

But all that is too wordy so they pared it down to that most famous of sayings. The thing is: What do you do when your mountains are actually... mountains?

It's easy to get overwhelmed

When you live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or really any chronic illness, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You face mountains daily, and it’s not a simple task to turn them into molehills.

In fact, I don’t think most people have even seen a molehill or can even give a rough estimate as to the dimensions of said hill. Big as a hatchback? Small as a garbage can? 100 decimeters? If anyone knows a mole, please ask. But, I digress.

The point is it’s not a simple task to just overcome the daily obstacles that chronic illness puts in front of us. So, what do we do? How do we scale those walls that we live with when we have RA or any chronic illness?

"Can you help me?"

Well, the most obvious thing to do is ask for help... which is why it’s mind-boggling that so few of us are okay with doing so. Even fewer of us actually go through with it and say the words, "Can you help me?"

I have seen people with chronic illness who have been stuck halfway up the stairs for a fortnight who still won’t request assistance. Even if you ask, "Do you need help," they’ll just tell you "No thanks." They’ve set up basecamp now and they’re going to try for the summit again tomorrow – and I get it.

I hate asking for help

I hate asking for help. It’s difficult to even push the words out of my voice box into the air in front of me.

It feels so uncomfortable - like asking your dad for a condom. God bless if you and your dad had that good of a relationship but, as far as I was concerned, my parents were eunuchs. It just feels unnatural to most of us to ask for help. It wasn’t until I was forced to do it that I relented.

Ask for help or scale the store shelves?

I’m short now. I mean - I was never tall, but I was just a shade above the low-limit of average height, once upon a time. Five-foot, seven inches. Then RA gave me spinal compression fractures and, like the leaning tower of Pisa, I’m now significantly shorter at five-foot-four. On a good day.

That may not seem like much, but when you go from just a hair over average height to 3 inches shorter than that, it’s a drastic change. Anytime I go out with other guys, I feel like I’m in the land of the giants. I come home at the end of the night with a sore neck from looking up when I talk.

Most of all, when I go to the supermarket, I can no longer reach the top shelf. Now you may be saying, "How many things can be on the top shelf?" Well, apparently everything I’ve ever wanted to eat, drink, read, or feed to the pets has a "must store above 5 feet" height requirement.

That means I have 2 options – ask for help or attempt to scale the store shelves myself. Now, normally, I’d choose the latter. But, there was an incident where I ripped the price display off the entire length of the aisle like a pull-start lawnmower, so I don’t go mountaineering on Mount King Kullen any longer. That only leaves asking for help or going hungry and, believe me, I’ve considered going hungry, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with the time I saved not eating so I started asking for help.

It can be awkward and embarrassing

Guess what? Asking for help is exactly as awkward and embarrassing as you think it is. Sorry, I know you probably thought I was going to go in another direction with this, but it’s true.

It doesn’t help that I go to the grocery store right after lunch and that means the only other people in the grocery store at the time are usually elderly. And forget about relying on the store employees for help. They are too busy doing...anything else.

Well, you haven’t lived until you’ve asked someone 30 years older than you to help you get something off the top shelf. They give you that look - you know, the one that says, "Is this one of those interweb videos?” One particularly prickly man said to me, “Why?” Why? Oh, you know, I like asking octogenarians to do simple tasks so I can laugh at them because... I’m a sociopath?

Most people, though, just smile and help and then walk off in one direction, wondering why a seemingly healthy 40 - ahem - 30-year-old looking kid asked them for help. And I walk off in the other direction with the mixed berry flavor of yogurt that I prefer. Win-win.

Asking for help is something you should do

My point in telling you all this is that asking for help is something you should do. However embarrassing you think it is, trust me - it’s nothing like my experience. And, asking for help also has the added benefit of... um... getting you help.

I know it’s bonkers that those 2 things are connected but it’s true. Everyone needs help sometimes, those with rheumatoid arthritis and even those without, so ask. It’ll help you in more ways than one. Talk soon.

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