With a Little Help from my Friends

girlfriends

As a continuation from my “Helpless but not Hopeless” post, yesterday I realized that I need to be able to ask for HELP more than I do and that I do have people around who can help me.

I met a good friend (Ms. A) for lunch yesterday. We have known each other about 15 years, have talked through marriage problems, divorce issues, dating, adoption, death and have been able to help each other through these things. But when most of these life events happened, I was healthy and able to assist Ms. A in just as many ways as she was able to assist me. When I was in the capacity to help her, it was easier for me to ask for help because I felt that I could reciprocate the gesture when Ms. A needed it. This extends to all my friends, as I’m realizing.

It was never easy for me to ask for help, as I was always a self confident, self motivated woman with a good head on her shoulders and could basically get myself out of any situation with little assistance. Nowadays, that is not the case. I need help, more than I’d like to admit and do have problems asking for it.

I was telling Ms. A about how last week I felt anxious and helpless when my car didn’t start and that I am extremely vulnerable in situations that I don’t have control over. She was extremely reassuring and told me that my behavior was normal for someone living with a chronic condition as I am. Healthy people get anxious and that I shouldn’t be upset with myself for feeling like that. Ms. A also reassured me that even though we don’t speak as often as we used to when we saw each other regularly (as we used to work together), that she is only a phone call away and that all I need to do is call and she will be here helping me in any way I need. I know she really meant that and didn’t just say it to make me feel better.

We talked for 2 hours about normal things that girlfriends would chat about and it also reminded me that I need to reach out to my other girlfriends more because even though I wasn’t feeling that good physically yesterday, when I said goodbye to Ms. A, mentally I felt better.

I guess deep down, I wish people would offer their help and assistance instead of me having to ask for it. I know I would, as I always have, but as I’m seeing most people aren’t like that. Truthfully, everyone has busy lives. Most of my friends are high powered career women who work long hours in stressful jobs that often take them out of town on business trips. They have 3 or 4 children in various life stages and they aren’t sitting and thinking about ways to help me. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t help me if I asked them.

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Sometimes helpless, but never hopeless

man in yellow flower  field under beautiful sky
This week has proven to be a challenging one for me because of how limited I am with my physical and mental capabilities. My system becomes overwhelmed very easily, whether it’s from sound, light or activity, they all seem to cause a shutdown of my brain and my body.

Aside from managing a chronic condition, life does go on and there are everyday mundane tasks that need to be accomplished. This week I had an issue with my cable service provider (Time Warner). I am disgusted by their lack of understanding for dealing with a person with a disability. After having a very frustrating conversation with the representative, which left me weakened to begin with, I had to go take care of a quick errand.

I went to my car, which thankfully was parked right in front of my apartment building, and the car wouldn’t start. I started to panic, which only exaggerated my symptoms and sat paralyzed for a few moments, running through every possible scenario in my head.

I finally gathered my thoughts and calmed down and called my insurance company for a jump. I waited an hour, but rested during this time, and then had to drive the car to a nearby mechanic. The car had to stay overnight and when I was driven home and was alone in my apartment, I became very anxious and felt stranded.

Now what a ridiculous thing for me to feel. I live in a very populated area, in a borough of NYC, in an apartment building filled with people, yet I was still anxious. What if I needed something, how would I be able to get it? Even though there is a supermarket and drug store one block away from where I live, the stores may as well be a mile away, as I can’t walk to them. What if my 85 year old mother, that lives around the corner from me, got ill and I wouldn’t be able to walk around the block to help her? I could come up with a lot of what if’s and believe me I did.

These feelings of helplessness overwhelmed me and I realized how silly they all were and that the likelihood of me needing to do anything but rest for the next 24 hours was remote, but I still felt helpless.

Of course I survived the night without any problems. My mom was alright and I had enough food in my apartment and I didn’t need anything from the drugstore, but I did realize how vulnerable I am to situations that I don’t have control over.

Healthy people don’t realize how lucky they are or how in control they are of so many situations, that they take forgranted. Not having a car for a day, is a big inconvenience, but it doesn’t create fear or helplessness. If I was healthy, none of the images floating through my mind would have occurred because I would be able to depend upon my body.

Just because I felt helpless that day, I was never and will never be hopeless. I still have hope that one day my body will be strong enough so that I can rely on it in any and all situations that I face.