Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pride? Dignity? Ego? Never Mind...

Accepting help is difficult for most people.  Working in social services I saw that again and again in the many hats I wore.  Examples flood my mind with so little effort.  Working in nursing homes, providing visiting nursing support in the community, working with young "at risk" parents/families, for the social assistance office, in palliative care and in outpatient mental health services I worked with a variety of people from every socio-economic status.  Despite the different reasons people were in need, one thing was certain. That was asking for help and accepting that help did not come without a personal price tag. 

We live in a society that values autonomy, self reliance, strength, and independence.  The thought of losing control is terrifying to most of us.  It is imperative to our self construct that we see ourselves as whole, capable, and able.  When you are suddenly faced with being unable to do things it is a mighty blow weather you are an 80 year old senior, a young new mother, a successful business owner, or a middle aged person.  When I was first hospitalized with symptoms of multiple sclerosis the task that faced my care team was a mighty one.  I was a caregiver, that was my role professionally.  Beyond that, it was what I thought most defined who I was.

Accepting help challenges us to reevaluate who we think we are, and what makes that so. We are forced to see that we can't always be "givers" we must also be willing to accept help.  It makes sense really, everything in the universe must have opposing sides to enable balance.  Let me tell you, learning to be the recipient of help wasn't easy.  It required me to set aside so many roles in my life where I felt competent, capable and whole.  Allowing people to assist me with the most intimate things in my day or the most mundane required me to swallow my pride, my dignity and my ego.  Accepting help gracefully wasn't easy when I was the "client".

 As I was doing my research for the Resiliency in Young Carer's page of my blog I came across the work of .  The majority of his work is in the area of Post Traumatic Stress disorder.  He compiled a list of skills helpful in facilitating resiliency in the face of adversity.  As I look down the list it is easy to see how these approaches would lead to favorable outcomes, but what wasn't so readily seen is the personal struggle that so often is faced when you are the one dealing with the adversity.  As you look down the list can you think of a time when you struggled with any one of these?  What did you have to give up?  Were you successful?
  • The ability to cope with stress effectively and in a healthy manner (not avoiding).
  • Being resourceful and having good problem-solving skills.
  • Being more likely to seek help.
  • Holding the belief that there is something you can do to manage your feelings and cope.
  • Having social support available to you.
  • Being connected with others, such as family or friends.
  • Self-disclosure of the trauma to loved ones.
  • Spirituality
  • Having an identity as a survivor as opposed to a victim.
  • Helping others.
  • Finding positive meaning in the trauma.


Peace Be With You said...

All of the items on your list are important to confront and/or master. What is perhaps not apparent from such a list is that, as with the stages of grieving, there is not an orderly progression from neophyte to master. Especially with a fluctuating illness like MS, it is a constant giving and taking and giving again and the cycle goes on. So perhaps one can add self-forgiveness to the list as one takes back-tracking steps. I have had to adjust my model for defining success, and it often now includes those tiny steps forward that occur after giant leaps backward. It even includes accepting that no steps forward, tiny or otherwise, may occur. The rules of the game got tossed and I have had to find a path to serenity and integration which could even include that I might never reach such a goal.

Kim said...

"The rules of the game got tossed and I have had to find a path to serenity and integration which could even include that I might never reach such a goal."

That is so very true. The rules, the frame of reference and us as individuals are always changing when living in the inpredictable world of MS. Thank you for your comment Judy.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou