I have always enjoyed doing things on my own, and valued my independence while growing up. I want to continue to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. As a result, I find asking for help very difficult. This is partially due to not knowing how others can help me. When many of your friends and family live out of town and lead very busy lives, it is hard knowing how to ask for help. Sometimes even I don’t know what I need.
Asking for help is especially difficult for me because one of my biggest fears is that I am becoming a burden to friends, family and colleagues. I worry I am a burden to those who support me physically and emotionally on a daily basis.
I know my friends, family and colleagues reading this would disagree. They would tell me that I am not being a burden. In fact, many of them have corrected me when I have shared this fear out loud. And, although I appreciate their kindness in telling me that I am not, it is important to understand why I fear and realistically believe that I might be becoming a burden.
First, between the steroids and the emotions that come with a life-threatening illness, I certainly feel more “needy” than ever. I don’t even know what I need from people; most of the time it isn’t anything tangible. But I appreciate being around others. I have never felt this way before — a strong desire to have others around just so I am not alone with my thoughts and fears. I don’t want anyone to feel the pressure of spending time with me, and I don’t want to be on my own. As a result of how I am feeling, I am asking more of others, which makes me feel like a burden.
Frankly, I physically cannot do as much as I used to be able to do, which causes me to rely on the help of others. This has meant asking for help carrying things, and not just if someone is close by. I also have had to ask people to stop what they are doing to come and help me. An example of this is when I cannot carry in everything I need for the day from my car to the office, and I rely on colleagues to help me. There is no possible way I cannot feel like a burden when I ask someone to stop what they are doing, walk downstairs and outside, just to help me carry something inside. This is a very painful reminder for me that I am beginning to rely on others to help me more each day. My fear is that people will begin to resent me for needing their help.
Due to the nature of pulmonary fibrosis and the unpredictability of it, I cannot always be proactive in asking for help, but I try. I recognize those helping me have busy lives, but I may need to ask for help if I become unwell from a side effect of a new medication, or suddenly become weak or short of breath. I know people cannot always jump in to help me, and I don’t expect people to change their plans for me. But in the instances when that has happened, I really feel like a burden due to the short notice of needing someone’s assistance.
I’ve been having a string of daily sadness, which only heightens how much I feel like a burden to all the people I love and care about. Perhaps as I begin to feel better emotionally, I will remember that I do not need this extra help because I am lazy or whiny. It is because I am battling a fatal lung disease that is depriving my body of oxygen.
Until then, I just need to trust you when you say that I am not a burden.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.