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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Load Off Your Mind

Admit it. Those of us with MS need help once in a while. Many times pride keeps us from asking. Or we don't want to "put anyone out" or they have their own lives. We need help. Our desire to remain as normal as possible sometimes comes back to bite us in the butt. We can still maintain independence without doing everything ourselves. Asking for help doesn't make you weak.

MS drains our energy quickly. Some days are worse than others and some people have symptoms that never go away. Asking for help is actually generous to both yourself and the people who love you. The people who love you WANT to do something to help you. Most of all, they want to take MS away from you. They want to make the diagnosis NOT be true. They want to fix you and make you healthy again. It's frustrating to not be able to do that for you.

You know in your heart that you need help. Putting your own pride before this need is foolish. I know some of you are thinking that if you ask for help then you will be giving up. That by accepting help, you will cause yourself to be worse because you will stop giving yourself the “push” you need. Those are both valid points. I am not suggesting you give in to help by giving up all of the things you do. I am suggesting you find things that you can accept help on and keep your energy for the things you want to do the most. Asking for help frees up your time & gives you more time to rest & take care of yourself.

I could list a hundred different scenarios of how to benefit from receiving help, but this doesn’t mean you will listen. Start by making a list of all your responsibilities and prioritize them by wants, needs and dislikes. Then make a list of all of the people who want to help you and add on the ones that should help you. Set it aside and look it over later with fresh eyes. When you are ready, decide which of your responsibilities you could use help with or the ones you hate the most. Choose the ones that you’re willing to give up for the “greater good”. Now go over your list of people and decide who would be the person best for the task. Make a new list with the people and the tasks you’ve chosen for them. Look at how far you’ve come with this step. Even if you don’t ask, which you should, you have at least put your priorities in order and can manage your own time better.

Pick your battles. If a clean house is important to you, but you also want to make dinner for your family then you need to prioritize. Ask for help with the cleaning or hire a cleaning lady to come once a month for deep cleaning and in between you'll only need maintenance. If a friend has offered "Can I do anything?" Say "Yes." If you are afraid to ask for something specific then tell the people who have offered that you have made a list of the things that are difficult for you to do. Show them the list and allow them to pick the thing they want to do to help. Maybe they can chauffeur you around to your errands? They drop you off & pick you up at the entrance which will save you time & energy.

The people we love are not mind readers. If you expect them to read your mind or “know” what you want or need, then you are playing a game you'll both lose. Be honest. Be understanding. Be persistent. Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE!! If you tell people what you want from them, what you need from them or how they are making you feel, the results are typically better than you think. Be brave and just ask them. In the end, you will all benefit. Your energy will increase and they get the satisfaction of doing something to help you. Don't underestimate the power of someone doing a load of your laundry and taking a load off your mind.

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