11 Nov The ironing pile that got smaller without doing any ironing: creative problem solving when we need a bit of help
Asking for help when we experience chronic illness is a skill that can take time to learn. At the first day of Finding Your Feet with Fibromyalgia we discovered that asking for help can be empowering for us, and for those around us.
It hasn’t always been easy for me to ask for help. As an illustration, I once chose to move countries by public transport and initially refused my housemate’s offer to help me tote 90kg of luggage to my departure point at Kings Cross St Pancras station. The look on her face made me wonder if I might be making things slightly difficult by trying to do everything myself.
I accepted this angel’s help, and that of many others during my next 24 hours negotiating staircases across France, including one woman who heroically dragged my suitcase on as the train chugged out of Paris.
Upsides of accepting help included that I could still walk when I got to my destination. I was also overwhelmed by the generosity of human beings, and realised that there was no virtue whatsoever in having “I moved 90kg of luggage across countries by train all by myself” on my CV.
It was also clear that my must-do-it-myself attitude had consequences for others.
Needing to do it ourselves comes up a lot at our Fibromyalgia management courses. For many this reflects a fear that their condition becomes “real” if they admit they can’t manage, that they are somehow weaker.
“I’m always the person who needs to do it myself” shared one participant, and everyone nodded.
Simply hearing someone expressing their need to feel independent helped others in the group to see themselves with more compassion. Over the next couple of days, some said they would be asking their kids to help out more, or requesting less hours at work. Others found inner reserves to ask for help of themselves in order to see things a little bit differently:
“My ironing pile went down by half and I didn’t do any ironing. I just put things away without ironing them. That was hard for me to do, but I realised I don’t have to do everything.”
How would you ask for help today that would make your life and that of those around you richer?
Finding Your Feet with Fibromyalgia next runs March 14 – 15 2015. Get in touch to join us.