How do you know if you need help adapting emotionally to living with a serious health issue? This is a big question. And it raises so many more questions, concerns, and maybe fears.
You may wonder if you are going crazy. Or you think should be able to cope on your own. In fact, you may feel it would not be right to have to ask for more help. You already feel a burden on everyone around you.
Family and friends may be saying in a well-meaning or exasperated way to ‘be positive’, ‘get on with it’, and ‘we all have difficulties’. People offer suggestions, so many you are swimming in them.
Like I wrote last week, you didn’t choose to enter the world of serious health issue, so there is also the element of not knowing what you need to know. That makes it hard to get help because you don’t know what would help.
Adapting to the physical changes can take priority and sometimes that is all we have energy for. Attending to the emotional side of the changes often comes much later in my experience.
No wonder it can be hard to know when you need help. All these things can make it genuinely difficult to get the help when you need it. So I’m going to share some of the signs I’ve come across in my own experience and that of my clients to help you know when help might actually be a good thing. And the one thing that could still trip you up in getting the help you want and deserve.
Signs that help would help your emotional health
These are some of the signs that you may be ready for help. This isn’t easy reading because the situation you find yourself in isn’t easy to deal with. So as you read it, if anything resonates with you, just notice that and be gentle with yourself.
- You feel a sense of disquiet or struggle on the inside.
- You feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster, out of control.
- Things are so different now, life can feel like a struggle at times or a lot of the time.
- You miss your old life, want it back, you keep comparing yourself to how you used to be and trying to live like that despite the changes. But it feels very hard to achieve.
- You may feel alone, like no one really gets it however much they try and are lovely.
- You are ignoring the changes that have happened to you.
- Food, alcohol, drug intake, or risky behaviour has increased. They offer you an escape from this new unwanted life.
- You isolate yourself from others more and more.
- Whenever you talk about your health and the changes, you get upset or angry, or both.
- People offer help, or comfort, and you snap back in anger.
- People might tell you the changes they see in you, that help might be a good idea, and you might not like that.
- You don’t do very much anymore, not even favourite activities.
You desperately want to be happy again. You want to find hope, sometimes you still feel a flicker of hope inside you. Figuring out how to be happy, but in a changed body, and making sense of everything the serious health issue means can feel like a very large mountain to climb or an icky large swamp to swim through.
But this one thing can trip you up from getting help
The expectation that you should be able to do this all on your own.
What fuels this expectation?
- The assumption we will be an imposition on others and we feel guilty as a result.
- The fear of being seen as weak. When we say, ‘I cannot or do not want to do this on my own,’ we make ourselves vulnerable. In our society, vulnerability is mistakenly equated with weakness.
- We are showing our difference and so setting ourselves apart from the groups we belong to. We may feel our sense of belonging is threatened and don’t want to risk that disconnection.
- We are acknowledging the change that has happened to us and what we’ve lost as a result. This can be so hard to do.
- We worry that by not doing it by ourselves, we will feel worse. Being able to do things ourselves feeds our sense of self-worth.
- We worry about being ‘needy’, which doesn’t have good connotations in our society.
No wonder why we expect ourselves to do everything on our own! Some of these are myths and and others are genuine issues and I explain how and why here.
So when are you ready to accept and receive help?
I often find the following combination in action when people are ready to reach out for help. You:
- realise how you feel and are behaving isn’t helping you, and you’ve had enough of feeling that way
- want to make a change, that desire is there
- feel a flicker of hope that things can be different. You may or may not know exactly how you want things to be, but you feel ready to start exploring that
- get to the point of saying, ‘I’ve done all I can on my own and I’m not getting to where I want to be.’
It’s at this point I find people ready to take a leap of faith, to reach out and connect with another to help them get to where they want to be even if they don’t know where that is. Paradoxically, this is your first step in taking back control, which is a big thing to do to help restore your confidence, self-belief and self-worth.
Here is a small step you can take to get support
If you are thinking about getting support to help you emotionally adjust to living with a serious health issue, sign up to get the free Prepare for Coaching guide. It will help you think through the changes you would like to make, what helps you to make such changes, and how you would like coaching to help you do that.
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What’s it like for you?
What concerns do you have about reaching out for help? When you have reached out for help in the past, what made it more difficult or easy for you?
If you are living with a chronic illness or the after effects of a serious illness, or are caring for someone who is and would like support to take that first step in making change, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.
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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2017