Frustrated woman with cleaning supplies surrounded by speech bubbles

Did I Actually Ask For Help?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” - George Bernard Shaw, decorated playwright.

For a person with a degree in journalism, working in the magazine publishing business, you’d think I’d be better at communication. I can’t tell you how many times I need help with psoriatic arthritis and don’t receive it. I get so frustrated and angry, but after a little self-reflection, I almost always see that it is my own fault. I often find myself realizing that I never asked for help in the first place. Like the quote above, I have the illusion that I asked for help, but the reality is, I didn’t.

Independence is my pitfall

Any time I start a cleaning project around the house, I try to pump myself up. I tell myself, “I’ve got this!” and inevitably, I overextend, overwork, and in a nutshell, overdo. It’s like I have this ultimate challenge to do the whole project myself and nothing is going to get in my way. Well, nothing, except this chronic disease called psoriatic arthritis.

I push and push and then a few hours in, I hit my pain level of 8, which is usually a 12 on a normal person’s pain scale. Then, due to the pain and frustration, I scream and throw a tantrum like a toddler who has no idea what she wants.

And then, my emotions turn into anger – anger that I didn’t pace myself, anger that I couldn’t complete the project, and anger that my husband never even offered to help me.

Deep breath

Oh, wait, he did. I think I forgot to mention that. Usually, about the time I’m pumping myself up, my husband offers to help. I say no because, well, at that moment, I’m Wonder Woman and can achieve anything. Of course, I can clean out the closets all by myself. Of course, I can! What I fail to recognize – Every. Single. Time. – is that even Wonder Woman needs help.

Ask for help

Sometimes I have that conversation with myself, and it usually goes something like this:

Me: I can’t believe no one is helping me!
Inner Voice: Did you ask for help?
Me: No. I shouldn’t have to. They can all see that I’m struggling.
Inner Voice: But, you like to be independent. How do they know you need help?
Me: Well, they should just know by now.
Inner Voice: Maybe you should know by now to actually ask for help. They aren’t mind-readers.

Like the George Bernard Shaw quote above, I think I communicate my needs clearly, but really, I do a poor job. When I stop and consider the circumstances, I usually find that I’m the one at fault.

Not all help is physical

If I need help, I need to first ask for it, but then I also need to make sure I let them know exactly how they can help. Sometimes I need an extra hand with chores, but other times, it’s a hug, or someone to listen to my struggles, or even just a good laugh. It is my responsibility to communicate those needs. Only I know what I am feeling and what will help me get through the day.

And, to be honest, some days, I don’t even know that much. Some days, this disease has me so topsy-turvy that I do feel like a toddler who cries for a glass of juice and then screams when it’s in the green sippy cup instead of the blue one.

Learning to communicate my needs better helps everyone in the long run. I get less frustrated and friends and family actually get to lend a hand and feel like they are making a difference.

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