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Who's in control.About being sick and getting/ needing help

Updated on October 9, 2008

Being a nurse myself, recently I'm experiencing what my patients go through every day. And I have noticed that my needs are no different from theirs. Now and then it's enough to make me despair. Nothing shows. Apart from a few pouches under the eyes caused by fatigue, it's not that bad from the outside. I'd just like to feel a little better now and then. And that's possible. Just give me the strings.

The strings

If you are or become ill a lot changes. Slowly you lose control of your own existence. You get the feeling you're no longer in charge.

I believe that this feeling should be opposed as much as possible. You want to be in control, even if only of a few things. Especially the things that are important to you.

For others this is difficult to imagine.

When you're not ill, your whole life is under your control.

"Can I help you?"

When faced with limitations, at some point in time the question will be asked: "Can I help you?"

Help is often offered unasked for. Because the giver wants to give. Out of a lack of power, to feel good about themselves or simply because it's their job.

You receive help, whether you want that or not.

You hear: "You're insane if you don't accept help. It makes it so much easier".

Or you think: "I allow him or her to help me, because (s)he wants it."

Why is this relevant?

Do you accept all help that's being offered?

Dependency. Nobody wants to be dependent. At least, I can't imagine anyone would want that. But if you accept all help you're offered, you lose independence and hence more control of your own life. And being ill in itself already means losing control.

For the ill person: You can't cope? Then ask for help. This way it's your own decision. You are aware of your limitations, but you remain in control. Often somebody with a physical limitation is told to take it easy. "I can do that for you, your kids could do that too". Anyway, a list of well-meant comments. Yet still one wants to have as much control of their own life as possible. When there really is no other possibility people can help. In most cases it is better to let people explore their limitations and fumble; in that way the mental part will remain healthy (longer). Often one accepts help in order not to be blunt or ungrateful. Instinctively help is not wanted, but it is accepted. This is why it's important to talk about this. Talk about and listen to what people want and do not want.

When it's someone who's close

Are you befriended with or close to someone who is less able that you are, now and then or always? Then you'll often want to help that other person. Even worse, it can happen automatically: I'll help. No questions asked. Sometimes you will ask: "Shall I help you?" And have you been snapped at? Did you ever wonder if your help was always appropriate? Have you ever been blamed for not helping?

How powerless can people feel when someone they love deeply becomes less capable, how much pain does a mother feel if she sees how her daughter is struggling to stay at her feet, how guilty can a sister feel, because she can still do anything while you can't. They'd sacrifice anything just to make you better, which they can't. But they can help and help is what they want readily. En then there's the ill person... "Don't bother, I can do that myself".

How can you decide when you should help without being asked and when to ask if your friend needs help?

Suggestions for help that might help

  • Consult about regular help you give uninvited
  • Ask whether you should offer help in certain situations
  • Try to stick to agreements regarding help. It can be very frustrating if help is provided when it wasn't asked for.
  • Do you find it hard not to offer help? Maybe you can consider this: the best help is when your friend remains as independent as possible.

Let the other person be in control.

So... I will get new medication today. Maybe it will take away most of the pain. Enough to get more sleep I hope and to take matters into my own hands again. And enough to let the people who love me and I love, feel less helpless:)


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