Recently I came down with a bad case of pneumonia and ended up spending a week in hospital, followed by a week recuperating at home. I had been unwell for at least a couple of weeks and had been soldiering on, insisting on having the capacity to honour my work and personal commitments. By the time I was admitted to hospital, I was told that had I left it a couple more days, I would likely have ended up in ICU with sepsis.
For the record, I consider myself to be independent. Most things (apart from a stubborn jam jar lid) I try to manage myself as I really do prefer it that way. I would rather not rely on other people for help. Admitting that I need help feels like a last resort, leaving me feeling vulnerable and, in some way, as if I have failed somehow by needing help.
Of course, in the hospital there is a buzzer by the bedside to call the nurse to ask for help. The nurses tell you to call them and remind you to ask for what you need. There were multiple times I hesitated; my internal dialogue was almost as loud as my painfully throbbing head.
What I want isn’t important enough to ask for
I can probably just do it myself
Someone else may be sicker than me
It can wait, I will ask later
I don’t want to be a burden
These were all thoughts that ran through my mind before I reluctantly hit the buzzer and asked for what I needed, apologising as if asking them for help was a burden to them rather than a role that they were happy to do (and get paid for).
Historically, my default when someone offers help is to automatically turn them down and tell them I am fine. What I hadn’t considered is that people that care about you want to help, it makes them feel good too!
The more I asked, the easier it became to do so. I started feeling less guilty about accepting help as well as more worthy of the care I was being given, both by the medical staff and family and friends.
The saying “it is easier to give than receive” has rung true for me for most of my life. After this experience, I am determined to think twice before automatically saying no and remember that asking for what I need is not just okay, it is a really good idea.