When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, you don’t really know what happens next, or when. You are not sure what course the disease takes, but at some point, you realize that the disease will limit you requiring you to seek out the assistance of your loved ones with tasks that you had always done on your own. So, it is not uncommon to feel like a burden to your partner and your family.
I have blogged many times about how weak I feel when I realize I need to ask help from the very people I have always helped. It is hard when so many have relied on you to be strong for them, and one day, you realize that you need them in order to be strong. Sometimes, you even need them to help you with things that families and partners do not necessarily do for their partners and loved ones. It can be something as simple as helping you out of bed on a morning where the pain is unbearable or having to ask someone to drop off your kids to school one day because you feel too sick to drive. Then, there are the times when our loved ones want us to spend time with them and we are not able to. With any of these scenarios, it is pretty easy to feel like you are a burden to others.
There is not much you can do about having to ask others for help but letting others now how much you appreciate their assistance can lessen how bad you feel when you have to ask for help. Quite often, we get so plagued in how bad we feel physically and emotionally that we forget about the people who are there in our lives because they love us. When you are able to, do something nice in return. That is all there is to it, because kindness can go a long ways.
Another way of showing your loved ones that you appreciate them is to stop dwelling and focusing on your condition because the attitude you reflect affects them as well. You may be able to spend as much time with your loved ones as you used to, but don’t add to the misery. When you can’t spend time with them, tell them that even though you can’t, you would like to, and when you are able to, you will.
The physical burden is nothing compared to the emotional burden. Your family wants to help you and they will, if you let them, if you appreciate them, and if you remain positive around them. Do not rely on you loved ones for emotional strength either because no one can provide emotional strength for you; you can only provide that for yourself. Also, understand that people get value from helping others, and that is a personal satisfaction. In other words, they are helping because they want to, not because they have to or else, they would not be a part of your life.
I wrote in a previous post that I, too, start dwelling just like anyone else. Sometimes, I am not even sure whether I can take the next set of blows that life throws at me, but you know what? I do, each and every time. I do look at my own life and wonder whether I could be a better mother, wife, daughter or sister if chronic illness wasn’t a part of my life. However, I know and understand that chronic illness is a part of my life, whether I like it or not, and there is no point in all the “what ifs”.
People always remind me how tough I am and how they couldn’t possibly be as strong as I am if faced with the same obstacles. The fact is, I am sure that they would because when it comes to chronic illness, we have to decide whether we want to live happily or die miserably. Let’s face it – that is all there is too it. You can choose to be strong and not let the disease win or you can choose to dwell and let the disease burden you. The latter option will only make your health go down hill.
The post came to me today after spending four days in the slumber dealing the worst fibromyalgia headache that I have ever dealt with since my diagnoses. It was also much worse than any RA flare-up I have had. In fact, I am still dealing with the remnants of that headache. It was so bad that I called off work, skipped class on Monday night, and even asked for an extension on my class assignments that were due yesterday. I found myself not able to do anything including take care of my own children. My kids had to eat fast food and pizza for four days, because my husband apparently does not know how to turn on the stove or use any other appliance or gadget in our kitchen. My ten year old took care of his baby brother while my husband was at work. I would have called in my mom, sister, and even a friend or two, if the nightmare headache lasted any longer. Let’s just say that the Advil, Aleve, and Excedrin have done a number on my stomach and barely did anything to relieve the pain. Ice packs, sleeping, and pain patches were also to no avail.
This was the first time that I did not feel like a burden asking for help. I didn’t have a choice, of course, but at the same token, I realized that I had to. That is the thing with asking for help. You have to accept the fact that you cannot always do it all, and go from there. Just trust in those that love you and you’ll be just fine.