Recently, when I open up to people about what I’m going through, they’ll ask me how they can help. Really, I am floored by the amount of people that are there for me, no matter what.
But most of the time, I don’t know how to answer that question. Sometimes, it’s because I don’t feel like I deserve help, or that if I accept help, I’ll somehow be a burden, even though they are offering to help me. More often than not, though, it’s because I honestly don’t know how people can help. A lot of what I go through is internal. Ironically, it is all in my head, but that doesn’t make it any less real or valid than “physical” problems you can see and touch.
People still offer. They still care about me and, bless their hearts, want to help me as best as they can. I want to be clear that if I say I don’t know how you can help, it’s not that I don’t value your help, or even that I don’t want to accept it. It’s mostly that I don’t know what other people can do. I guess I’m not used to the idea of other people helping, for whatever reason, I felt like I had to do everything on my own and that asking for or even accepting help meant that there was something wrong with me.
But sometimes, the best way that we can help people is to let them help us. The older I get, the more I’m realizing this.
So, if you are one of those people that sincerely want to help me, let me tell you some things that you can do.
With my specific combination of illnesses, there’s no telling when I will have a flare up or bad day. One day, I can feel like I’m on top of the world, like I have the energy to do just about anything. I’ll agree to a whole lot of projects, because at that moment in time, I’ll feel like I can do anything.
And then the next day comes. My fatigue hits, something triggers me or I have an episode. My stomach decides not to work, or my immune system fails and I get sick. Often times, whatever happens is bad enough that I have a hard time feeding myself or even getting out of bed. If I’ve made plans or expected to work on a project, that goes completely out the window.
Now, I feel like most of the people in my life are incredibly understanding. They know that I’m not trying to get out of being with them, and that I really do like them. But one of the biggest things that would help me is for me to know that the people in my life understand. I would really much rather be with you or working on my projects than trying to find the physical energy to get out of bed in the morning, or to put some food together in order to feed myself. I would much rather spend time with you than be wrestling with my mental illnesses. But sometimes, it’s all I can do to get through a day. It’s all I can do to meet my basic needs. Sometimes, I don’t even realize that other people exist until after I get some energy back.
So, if we have plans or if I’ve agreed to work on something with you and I have to cancel or reschedule at the last minute, please know that it is because of my illnesses, not because of anything you’ve said or done.
Another thing that would help me tremendously is knowing that the people in my life don’t think that I’m making stuff up or being lazy. I am really trying as hard as I possibly can to live some semblance of a normal life. But you try having Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, multiple food allergies and sensitivities, hypothyroid (which ruins your metabolism and immune system) and see if you don’t have some bad days too.
Most of that last paragraph was meant to address fears that I have, that I’m not good enough or I’m not trying hard enough, or that I’m making stuff up and people think less of me because of it. But the more people I hear the contrary from, the easier it is to wrestle with it and deny it.
And the last thing that you can do to help me is to not be afraid to ask questions. Really, it’s okay if you don’t understand my condition. I won’t be offended or even think poorly of you. I am more than happy to educate people on what it’s like and all of the aspects behind it. There are many ways that you can reach me, just pick one!
I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this. Let me know!