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 Matthew Tull, PhD. 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.
- Having an identity as a survivor as opposed to a victim.
- Helping others.
- Finding positive meaning in the trauma.