Have you ever had family, friends or even acquaintances offer to help when you are unwell? Somehow, though, you struggle to come up with ideas, even though you know all too well that you could do with some help.
There can be many reasons why we don’t ask for help from others. Perhaps this list of reasons has been your experience:
- You don’t want to be a burden
- You just want to be left alone
- You feel guilty for needing help
- You are embarrassed
- You can’t think of ways others can help
Let’s briefly address these reasons:
- No one wants to be a burden – it can even seem a noble thought to have. However, you must remember that mental illness is doing all the ‘talking’ here. Put the shoe on the other foot – if your family member/friend were unwell, you would be desperately wanting to help, just to be able to bring some relief to your loved one. In my experience, the family member/friend feels more burdened by not being able to do anything than by actually helping.
- Once again, mental illness takes a hold of your thoughts and makes you want to isolate. It is wise to remember that illness and isolation are inseparable – isolation means illness, illness means isolation. We need to allow others to help us, even if only in small ways, to help break the chains of isolation.
- Guilt is an emotion that comes to the fore a lot with mental illness. You can have guilt over lots of things from not being able to earn an income to not spending time with family. But the negative cycle of guilt only makes you feel worse. There is no need to feel guilt from others helping you. Remember, they want to help, and it allows them to feel useful, even in some small way.
- When you let embarrassment rule the situation, you are denying yourself the opportunity to feel loved and supported. And once again, you also deny others the opportunity to reach out to you.
- Even if you want others to help you, the brain fog and lack of energy and motivation make it difficult to come up with ideas. Often you are just too tired to even think. Once again, these symptoms of mental illness are the very things stopping you from asking for and accepting help.
Whether you can relate to one or all of these reasons, it doesn’t negate your responsibility as a part of your recovery to accept or even ask for help.
Some of the simplest things can be so impacting. Perhaps you could write a list (or ask someone to help you write a list!) of practical things that others can do when you are unwell. Here are some suggestions:
- Prepare a nutritious meal – not onerous as they are already cooking
- Give you a lift (e.g. to appointments or church)
- Pick up some groceries for you (remember you need to feed your brain for recovery, so suggest simple yet nutritious items like almonds, walnuts, fruit/veggies – these don’t need any preparation!)
- Pop in for short visits – when you are unwell you probably wouldn’t want a lengthy visit, but you still need interaction from others. Educate your family and friends that just a quick visit is fine.
These suggestions aren’t necessarily time consuming or difficult to do, yet they can positively impact your recovery, whilst at the same time benefiting the other person. Asking someone to help you in a way that uses their strengths and interests will be energising to the other person also.
It is important to remember that God expects His children to help others, so don’t deny others the opportunity to be obedient to His word. I will leave you with some verses from that perspective that might release you to ask for help:
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.