Help! I Can't Seem To Ask For Help

I have difficulty asking for help even though Parkinson’s has significantly degraded my physical abilities. That is a big problem. Yes, not asking for help is a “guy” thing. Most women believe this but most studies have not conclusively proved the theorem.

My Parkinson’s was diagnosed 6 years ago and I’m Stage 3 (perhaps Stage 2 on a really, really good day). Serious problems are balance-related with fine motor skills coming in second place. My tremors are pretty well controlled by medication. I exercise regularly. I try to do all the things I used to do.

My changing abilities

There’s a moving line in the sand representing what’s safe for me to do and what’s not safe for me to do. That line changes daily and even minute to minute. Each day, I see my abilities seesaw up and down. My attitude, my medication, my fatigue levels, even the weather make that red line extremely flexible.

I still think I can do almost everything I used to be able to do. Even though a task that should take an hour might take me 4 hours, I am reluctant to ask for help. I try to do as much as I can for myself and end up trying to straddle or even cross that moving red line.

Putting myself at risk

Some examples might make the problem clearer. For instance, multitasking with Parkinson's. Carrying almost anything while walking increases my balance issues and raises my fall risk substantially. I occasionally do it anyway.

I shouldn’t use a ladder of any kind, but I sometimes use a step stool for quick tasks. Some tasks like hanging pictures, changing lights, or moving furniture are beyond my current skill sets and require my daughter and son-in-law to come over. Waiting is not in my skill set.

I am currently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) dating back to my service in Vietnam and depression related to Parkinson’s disease.

For chronic pain I take a drug primarily used for depression, but, it also helped with my depression. Apparently, I'm OK with medication to treat my depression but unwilling to go to counseling or group therapy.

My conclusion? I sometimes put myself at risk mentally and physically when help is just an ask away.

Why not ask for help?

Why don’t I ask for help? Here are 7 reasons people who are elderly or have a chronic disease don’t ask for help:

  • Pride - Asking for help is often seen as a weakness or loss of competency.
  • Impatience - I want something done now and getting help will take longer.
  • Stigma - Asking for help, especially for mental health issues, is difficult because of social stigmas surrounding mental health care.
  • Guilt - Asking for help is a loss of personal status and an admission of vulnerability. You are using someone else's resources when you feel should be able to do the task.
  • Inability to return the favor - One is unable to keep the score or return the favor.
  • Embarrassment - Admitting you need help is so embarrassing that you won’t ask for help.
  • Damage to self-imageSelf-image is often a view of competency and admitting the need for help lessens it.

How to ask

Want Help? These are tips on asking for help. Focus on the end goal. Do you want the task completed? Will asking for help get the task done faster and more safely? Remember most people want to help and enjoy doing so.

Forget the concept of reciprocity. This can even diminish the warm feelings others get when offering help. Understand what you can do and what you can't do. Accept that what you used to be able to do may no longer part of the equation.

Briefly communicate why you are asking for help along with your request for help. Understand that asking for help does not diminish you as a person.

Asking for help may define a new you. Within your capabilities, assist or help someone else. Did it make you feel good? That’s what others feel when you ask for help.

Improving quality of life

Writing this article has helped me overcome one of my longest pushbacks against getting help. I have scheduled an appointment with a psychologist to talk about my coping skills, my PTSD, and my depression.

I have been stubborn about asking for help and I have used up all the possible excuses for not getting help. Try asking for help to improve your quality of life and to keep yourself safe. You might actually enjoy it.

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