why we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help

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Last week I wrote about how my experience with chronic illness has made me reevaluate how I define my worth. Instead of measuring my worth by the traditional notion of productivity, I’ve created my own version of success, a version that comes from trying my best to direct my time and energy towards a purpose that lights up my soul and allows me to be comfortable with my truths. One of my truths is that sometimes I need to ask for help.

We’re a society that prides itself on independence and strength - to stand alone, to check the next box and to fend for ourselves which usually translates to being strong and capable. While I’ve checked many boxes that society identifies as a success or a “next step” in this monopoly of life, lately I’ve been feeling like this time spent healing from Lyme disease is more like a step backwards, rather than a pause on my ambitions.  

By definition, I’m an adult - I graduated from college. I moved abroad to work for a nonprofit which led me to my current position at a large corporate firm. I send holiday cards and gifts to my grandparents. I bought my first major piece of furniture (a couch from Pottery Barn which I'll never do again because the customer service experience was a nightmare). I invest my money…. you get the picture. But lately, I haven’t been feeling so much like an adult.

When my health issues force me to take a long timeout on my plans for the foreseeable future, I turn towards my greatest source of comfort – my parents. Since graduating from college, there have been several phases when my health has relapsed and I’ve struggled to take care of myself. When this happens, I tend to spend most of my time healing and recovering with my parents in the house where they raised me. 

Because I’ve been on a medical leave from work for the past year, and the fact that most Lyme treatments aren’t covered by insurance, I now also need my parent’s financial support. While having their support is a wonderful luxury for which I’m eternally grateful, a small part of me feels guilty that once again, I need help.  

Sometimes I can handle aspects of my illness on my own. Other times I can’t. But one thing is for sure - it’s taken courage for me to accept the truth that being chronically ill has imposed certain limitations on my life. Which also means I need to sometimes lean on others.

Today, I’ve finally come to the realization that asking for help means I’m strong enough to admit when I need it. It means I’m brave enough to acknowledge there are some circumstances beyond my control. It means I’m wise enough to know I don’t have to face my battles alone.

Whether it’s self-help or support from a friend or family member, help manifests in many different ways. Taking medications, asking someone to accompany you to appointments, going to counseling, needing a shoulder to cry on or a ride because you aren’t permitted to drive aren’t weaknesses - they’re opportunities to heal, to learn more about ourselves, and to remind us that we are worthy of support from others.

And that’s the point. Asking, receiving, offering, sharing, providing. They all help us stay connected - a gift that’s worth a lot more than any pride from pretending we don’t need each other.