One of the most daunting parts of living with fibromyalgia has been learning to accept help from others. Rather it is help from my spouse, kids, loved ones, friends, or neighbors, it’s taken time to understand that I need help from time to time. I cannot do it all on my own all of the time. It’s not possible and it’s not fair to place that strain and stress on my body which is already struggling to heal.
But with a type-A personality, drive to organize, and the urge to do everything all at once, it has been a challenging task to learn how to let go and accept help. It’s not something that developed overnight or that I learned to accept straight away. It took time, failures, and lots of struggling alone to realize it’s okay to accept help.
Coming to Terms with My Limits
When I was first diagnosed and learning how to live with my new illness, I found myself turning down help when I needed it. My mom or sister would help with the cleaning when they would visit, and I took it as a way of them saying I couldn’t keep the house clean. I interpreted it as a jab at my condition when in reality they were only helping when I clearly needed help. So time and again I would insist they not visit when I was having a flare or couldn’t do my chores.
As a result of turning down their help, I experienced more flare days and prolonged my suffering. When I should have been letting my body heal by listening to the pain signals, I pushed through the pain. Pushing my body beyond that threshold resulted in further damage.
It’s difficult to swallow the fact that you cannot do it all on your own with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia targets the muscles and overwhelms the body with constant fatigue. The activities and tasks our bodies were once able to do, now take time or assistance. What used to take one day to clean the entire house now takes the entire week. It’s not something that’s easy for many of us living with fibromyalgia to accept. It’s a change of who we are and learning to accept that change takes time.
Learning to Accept Help
To have an effective support system, you must allow your support to do just that – support. Accepting help does not mean we are no longer independent. It does not mean we are weak or helpless. It means we understand our bodies’ limits, and we respect that limit by allowing others to help us. Helping means caring, loving, and supporting. Allow others to show they love you, care about you, and support you.
Most individuals like helping out a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor. We enjoy doing something nice for someone else and like to help when we can. So why is it so hard to be the one accepting the help? Why is it okay for us to help and expect others to take it when it’s so hard for us to do it? Maybe we should turn the tables and accept help and realize it’s okay.