Most people are just plain uncomfortable asking others for assistance. They often feel as if they are conveying an undesirable message about themselves when they admit they need some help. Here are some common myths that need to be debunked:
Asking for help makes you look weak or needy. On the contrary, asking for help is a sign of strength. Recognizing that you are having difficulty managing certain aspects of your life is the first step in finding a solution.
Asking for help signals incompetence. Here's a reality check: no one can do it all. That's why there are tax accountants and plumbers. It's important to let go of your need to be perfect.
Asking for help puts others in an awkward position. Trust other people to know their own limits and to say no when they're not able to assist you.
Asking for help might lead to rejection. It might, but chances are the people in your life will be happy to help. If someone can't be there for you this time, you can cast a wider net and enlist the support of others.
Independence and self-sufficiency are admirable qualities, but the best ventures in life are created by teamwork and mutual support. Reaching out to friends and family strengthens your bonds with them and allows you to feel intimately connected. And don't forget that when people lend support, it makes them feel good about themselves. Providing an opportunity for others to share in your life contributes to their own sense of well-being, too.
Self-esteem can play a role in determining whether or not you reach out for help. You have to feel worthy of another's time and attention. Remember that you deserve a hand as much as anyone else, and once someone answers your mayday call, it will reinforce the message that you're worthy.
The Chronic Illness Workbook by Patricia Fennell identifies four progressive phases of change in people living with chronic conditions: crisis, stabilization, resolution, and integration. This is an effective book to help people to develop effective management strategies to live their lives to the fullest.
If you've never been inclined to ask for help, it may take some practice. Picture the last time you asked someone for help. Did it feel uncomfortable? Did you apologize three times before hanging up the phone? Many people struggle to enlist the care and support of others.
It's important to be specific about what you need. Since many MS symptoms are invisible, it's not always readily apparent what you may want or need. Don't expect your husband to jump in and get the dishes done when you're dead tired unless he knows the extent of your fatigue. Communicating effectively and being assertive are good ways to let people know how you're doing and what needs to be done. Your best friend doesn't know your bladder is acting up or that you're working through muscle spasms unless you tell her. If you've always folded the laundry, don't expect the kids to jump in unless you've explained to them that Mom's a bit tired today. The truth is, you have to send a clear message by being specific. Never assume that anyone knows what you need or how you're feeling.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has a mission to reduce the burden of neurological disease. Their website,