I was quite independent before I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and often busy running my own counseling practice, writing, speaking, and living my life. I was active in every area of my life, but boy has that changed since my diagnosis three years ago. I bet you can relate.
Experiencing a loss of functioning over time is often a struggle for anyone who is diagnosed with PF. We go from lungs that work great to eventually needing to carry oxygen with us wherever we go. We get tired, we need help, and we lose our ability to do tasks we never had trouble with before.
As our health declines, we need the assistance of others
Asking for help can be a challenge:
- For some, asking for help may feel like weakness. We may try to keep doing everything ourselves, even when it is harmful to us.
- Others may resist asking for help because it breaks their layer of denial, causing them to face the severity of their diagnosis.
- And for others, help is welcomed and accepted.
No matter what, asking for help takes time to get used to
This is true for me. Even now, I give myself pep talks, telling myself that asking for help is a way of being kind to myself and makes my life easier. I also remind myself that allowing others to help benefits them, too.
I discovered this was true when I reached out to get financial help to attend our son’s wedding three weeks ago. A total of 170 people donated $39,000 so I could take an air ambulance 2,000 miles to their wedding. If I hadn’t put my neck out there to ask for help, I would have missed their wedding. It was such a treasured time, with memories that I will treasure forever. One of the most precious times was the mother-son dance. Kurt carried a small oxygen tank in a bag on his shoulder. When I sat down afterward, I cried tears of joy, and said, “What if I missed this?” Get your Kleenex…
Here’s what I learned about asking for help:
- There are many people around us who want to give and help.
- They feel helpless as they watch us struggle and suffer. They can’t restore our health, but they can help us in tangible ways that make our life easier.
- Giving to us is an opportunity for others to show you love, and it blesses them, too.
- Asking for and accepting help connects us with others.
- Requesting assistance helps you and also helps give your caregiver a break.
- These acts of kindness make the world a better place.
Last week, I shared how important it is to be compassionate with ourselves during difficult times. Listen below to part of an interview by my colleague, Jennifer Christian, where I share how asking for help is part of being kind to yourself. Jennifer also shares about her experience being a caregiver, as she helps her teenage daughter cope with a chronic illness. It is an uplifting conversation about how asking for help doesn’t only help ourselves, but is a blessing to those giving as well.
Practical tips to ask for help:
- Give yourself permission to get the help you need.
- Write down the names of people who have offered to help, or those you think could help.
- Start noticing things you need help with and write them down: groceries, rides to doctor’s appointments, meals, laundry, errands, maybe a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear.
- Match people with your needs based on what they’ve offered, their interests, and what you feel comfortable with.
- Pick the easiest thing on the list and contact the person you’ve chosen. Be direct. “Could you take my trash cans in and out each week?” “Would you be willing to call me before you go to the grocery store, and pick a few things up for me?”
- Most likely the person you contacted is very happy you called and would love to help. If they say no, keep trying. Remind yourself from personal experience how good it feels to help someone in need.
- Start slow…but start.
- Send a text, email, or letter or make a phone call thanking those who helped you. Tell them what a difference their kindness made to you.
I’d love to hear from you. Is it hard to ask for help? What ways have you been able to ask for help as a PF patient or caregiver? What types of help from others have made the biggest difference to you? Any tips for us about asking for help?
Please share this post with anyone you feel could benefit, or on social media. We’re in this together…
Click here if you’d like to listen to the entire interview with Jennifer and I.
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.