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.