There is an inner dialogue that often goes on in the mind of someone who is chronically ill when asking for help. Ultimately, the outcomes of these inner conflicts are feelings of guilt, shame, and uselessness. It is hard to break out of this mental ping-pong of feelings.
I’m sure if people could actually see what goes on inside my brain, they would laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. The truth of the matter is, it is difficult for many people, even those with able bodies, to ask for the help they need. It is especially difficult for those with chronic illness.
Below is a list of examples of some of my inner thoughts and the problems with these thoughts.
“Try to do this on your own. Maybe if you nap for an hour you will feel more energized.”
Problem: Usually naps don’t make me feel more energized. If I am tired in the beginning of the day, most likely this will stay with me the entire day.
Advice: On days when you are feeling especially fatigued and worn down, don’t try to “nap it off.”
“Just shake it off, you will be OK. You need to get this done.”
Problem: Realistically, I can’t “shake off” having PH. As much as I would like to think I can, it’s impossible.
“I can’t do anything! I’m just going to sit around all day being bored. My body stinks!”
Problem: Just because it is hard to do things one day, doesn’t mean I can’t do anything at all. Sometimes my body tells me to rest in bed, but that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. That means I’m taking care of myself.
Advice: Saying negative things about yourself will just make you feel worse mentally and doesn’t help the physical aspect of it. Don’t get caught up with your bad day. You will make it worse by putting yourself down.
“People will think I’m lazy! I need to do this myself. I don’t want my family to think I am trying to get out of something.”
Problem: The people who I trust enough to ask for help definitely don’t think I am lazy. They are probably in admiration of the fact that I try to manage the best I can.
Advice: Remember that the majority of people WANT to help you in any way they can. They feel helpless seeing someone they care about go through so much.
“I already asked this person to help me a few days ago. She is going to think I’m taking advantage of her.”
Problem: This is the guilt side of my feelings. I get caught up in feeling guilty about my need for help.
Advice: If you ask someone for help, either they will do it because they want to and know you need the help, or they won’t. If they don’t, it’s probably because they are too busy with something else. Always have a few people to turn to!
“Today I need to clean the entire house and go grocery shopping.”
Problem: There is no need for me to do everything all at once. It will just make me more tired.
Advice: Only do what you can manage. If you absolutely have to clean the entire house and go grocery shopping, make sure to bring someone with you to the grocery store and split up the house chores with someone who can help. It is not worth wasting all of your energy and spoons on one trip to the market.
What keeps someone who is chronically ill from asking for the help they need? Why do we feel such shame when those who will help us know how much energy we are putting in just to get through a day? For me, it is a very long list of feelings, fears, and worries that keep me from getting the courage to ask. I’m sure those with PH can add many thoughts and inner dialogue to this list. Writing out my inner dialogue helps me to evaluate it when I have a clear mind. When I am able to think logically about it, I can work on changing how I view getting help.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.