As well as accepting my illness, for me, asking for and more importantly, receiving help from others was incredibly difficult. I realised very quickly that not only did I not know how to ask for help, I also didn’t know how to accept help from others. There are several members of my family who are not just a little bit stubborn, but almost infamous for it! I didn’t think I was one of those people until I became ill with CFS when it showed up in a major way.
As you’ve probably got to know by now if you’ve been following my blog, I pride myself on being independent and doing things my own way. I’ve always been a little bit quirky and don’t tend to follow the crowd (this isn’t a deliberate choice, it just seems to happen that way!). Having to drop out of Uni in your first year and move back in with your parents after a CFS diagnosis is one way in which the universe made sure that from then on, I would have to collaborate and eventually ask for help from other people. I learned recently however that once you learn to do this, and receive help fully and graciously, there is a sense of power and amazing collaboration which appears…
…and my god, does it feel good.
The key in the early stages of any illness is recognising the ways in which people try and help you (more on this here). When I first moved home, I thought my parents were nagging the life out of me and really didn’t understand me. In hindsight however, this was their way of caring for me and making sure that my illness didn’t completely take over what was supposed to be a prime time in my life. After their loving care and injections of positivity, I attended Uni a year later and managed to complete my four-year course with a year in France to boot. I honestly believe that if they hadn’t helped me in this particular way, I may not have been able to attend Uni at all. They knew I was independent and stubborn, so basically forced their help on me. I wasn’t very good at being grateful at the time, but now I hope they know how grateful I am to them and I hope I can repay this gratitude through my actions in years to come.
Asking for help from someone in itself, especially in our world today, is a great sign of strength and character. By asking for help, you are admitting that you are vulnerable and need assistance, and there is great beauty in vulnerability. I would say that when you ask for help, 99% of the time the other person is grateful to be of service and to assist in whatever it is you are going through, be it asking when your bus is due, asking a neighbour to mind your cat for the weekend or asking for advice with a difficult personal problem. I take it as a compliment when people ask me for directions in the street- I must appear to be kind and approachable. I can’t always help them, but I am incredibly grateful to be asked.
Receiving help is an art-form in itself, and one which I think the world needs more of. There is a quiet power in receiving help. We are one, we are all connected, so receiving help not only benefits you in the short term, but it creates a ripple effect. Your friend then asks someone else for help, then they ask their neighbour, and it continues. Decide whether you need help or whether you can truly and honestly take the responsibility on your own. As soon as you decide to ask for help, the butterflies in your stomach will tell you that you are moving out of your comfort zone and into this ripple effect, enabling you to receive graciously.
I feel strong and vulnerable when I ask for help, as it was a foreign concept to me for quite a while. Babies and children never fail to ask for help and receive it with love, and we should learn from them as adults. We grow and stand a little bit taller every time we do, the world appears brighter and people smile that little bit more often.
What do you need help with today? Ask with love and feel that little bit more grounded when you receive their assistant. We are one big community, full of ripples, and it feel gorgeous.
(For a little bit more on the concept of vulnerability, please sit back and watch this amazing TED talk by academic, speaker and writer, Brené Brown. I absolutely love this video and think being vulnerable is a humbling and inspirational attitude to have)
Love and vulnerability,