I need help

I was at the grocery store the other day picking up a few items I needed. Because I use a power chair to get around, I find it easier to shop once a week. This way I can place the hand carry basket in my lap and enjoy my time browsing the aisles for a weeks worth of groceries rather than being loaded down with a entire month of food.

I enjoy the time I spend looking at all the produce so I can pick out the right kind of apples I want, or seeing something on sale which sparks an idea for a great meal that I wasn’t planning, or stopping to taste-test a new breakfast waffle. I love that kind of spontaneity and decision making.

I stopped at the refrigerator section to pick up a gallon of milk and wouldn’t you know it, the kind I wanted was on the top shelf. I opened the cooler door and positioned my chair close to the shelves while I reached in for a jug. They were too far to reach.

Thankfully, there was a man walking by who saw me and asked if he could help. I pointed to the one I wanted and he graciously pulled it down for me. That kind of thing doesn’t happen often, someone stopping to help, but when it does I always do my best to let the person know how much their kindness was appreciated.

I wish more people were that attentive and kind without having to be asked. I am such an independent person that it’s not always easy for me to ask, but when I need it I have come to the place where I am not ashamed or embarrassed to speak up.

At one point I was the I-can-do-it-all-by-myself person. I would have struggled and fought with the milk, exhausting myself and more than likely making a mess in the process, all the while leaving myself frustrated, stressed and depressed. Deep inside I felt I would be losing the battle with MS if I gave in to my limitations I was experiencing.

But that isn’t true. We all need help…from the healthy to the sick, from the able bodied to the disabled. You don’t have to prove anything to others or even to yourself by trying to do everything by yourself.

It’s hard, I know, but you need to get to a place where you are okay laying down those things you are trying so desperately to hold on to only because you feel like a failure when asking for help. You aren’t a failure.

Failure isn’t based on what you can or can’t do. Failure is giving up! Asking for help isn’t giving up. Asking for help is allowing others around you the opportunity to step up and be the support you need them to be.

You see, many people don’t know how to help a person with a chronic illness. Since they don’t know what to do, most of the time they do nothing at all. When you speak up to share a need, not only do you lessen the load you are trying desperately to carry but you end up with someone coming along side you to share in your burden.

Don’t wait for people to read your thoughts. If you are waiting for that to happen, you will be waiting a long, long time. Speak up and let your needs be known. That’s the only way your family and friends will truly know how they can help.

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About the Author
About the Author
Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

28 replies
  1. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Well written Penelope. Asking for help is as hard as it is without asking sometimes, but when it comes a thankyou is usually gratefully accepted.

  2. Tracy Long says:

    I feel bad having to ask my family so much for help with things. I have in the back of my mind that they have to get so tired of that. They say they don’t though.

  3. Paulette Brown
    Paulette Brown says:

    Asking for help is the hardest thing I have learned from MS…in the grocery store it is nothing new for me though-I am only 5ft so the top shelf has always been a struggle. When I lived in Whitehorse there was a particular grocery store I frequented(there were only two at the time 🙂 ) there was always something I couldn’t got to the point that the butcher would see me coming and he would follow me around the store in order to reach things for me and we’d visit while I shopped. He was a really nice person and I always think of my shopping trips with him following fondly, MS has taught me to ask more frequently for help..

  4. Tania Padilla says:

    So true! Never give up! Always try! My son and daughter watch me and when they see I need help they do it with a lovely smile. My father taught me independance, MS has been difficult for him to understand, at the beggining he push to do things by myself, as he has understood the disease he helps me with a lovely smile too. It is not easy for anyone

  5. Heather Adsit says:

    It’s true.
    I have learned to ask when I can.

    I don’t have many who follow through with the offer to help.

    Every time I am weak and need help…. I get a response of.

    Oh no… you shouldn’t have the kids with you. 🙁

    So I don’t ask to much.
    I also only post on Facebook now about my ms when I know I have nothing big to do.

    It’s scary being a mom with MS as it seems no one wants to help… they just want to offer and when you take it it comes with a dose of being scolded for not holding it together.

    Or have a good day and get told.

    “You need to look for a job as I see your doing better.”

    I got that just yesterday.

    I want to work so bad… but getting others to understand no job will keep a person who is sick every other day… or week.

    I struggle about one week worth of days out of a month.
    Not bad… but not good :/

    Asking when you can though is good.

    But being a parent… you don’t want the goverment to take your kids. To those with kids… be careful who you ask 🙁

    • Heather Adsit says:

      Thank you.
      It’s ok… I manage.
      I post more on my fb then I should about my ms.

      I’m trying to change outsiders way of thinking.

      Having MS is rough…. but I feel with the right help.. tools… a parent with MS can be just fine.

      I think it’s about awareness 🙂

      I’m always going on walks…. allowing my shakes and wobbles to show.
      My kids never are scared. To them it’s normal 🙂

      If I feel weak and my legs give in… my 5 yr old helps me close our living room baby gates and I always have snacks… pop corn… and drinks in reach 🙂
      We work together and make a movie date out of it 😉

      Days I have to go out… I have a few close family I can call.

      My husband has lost one job form my MS symptoms :/

      I try not to bother him… but like he says.. family saftey first 🙂

      Now if we can only get the rest of the world to understand support and not taking away from a mom just because of her challanges.

      I will fight this battle till every parent can without worry ask for help 🙂

      I can’t even get a parking place card because the goverment wants to take my license if I do :/

      My son had a field trip on a train and I couldn’t find parking. The only parking left I would have had to climb allot of stairs :/

      So I had to park down the street from the train station :/

      I was fine till I got home and had to rest the rest of the day.

      My legs wouldn’t move :/

      I wish asking for help was easier.

  6. Heather Kray says:

    I have become so dependent on my husband. When I was single and sick, I wasn’t too sick, so I mopped the floors weekly, washed the dishes every day, had every tidy and perfect now my husband stays home with our kids, does 90% of the housework, and he runs all the errands. I hate feeling helpless with this body. I look forward to my heavenly body awaiting me! All I can do is keep my faith and hope in Jesus. I’m typing this while having my 3rd round of Lemtrada. Chemo sucks, but MS sucks worse, so I’ll take it.

  7. Judy Gustafson Lott says:

    The hardest thing I ever do is say those two little words – “help me” – they took too much of my independence away. But I’m learning – and thank God for my wonderful sister!

  8. Christine Mcneill says:

    So true!! I hate asking for help if I didn’t I wouldn’t get anything done so it’s a case of getting up and getting on with it. Failure is giving up and I’m not giving up , you can’t take MS out the girl but you can take the girl out of MS , hope everyone is well today

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