Why is it so hard to ask for help?

Perhaps the management skills, fierce loyalty, and big heart that make us such great caregivers also make it difficult for us to ask for assistance. We tend to see it as a sign of weakness and we feel that our loved ones can’t afford to see us as weak. But listen: when you ask for help you are putting yourself in a vulnerable state. Others recognize that and respect you for it. Sharing our vulnerabilities is the basis of human connection.

We understand that as a caregiver, your natural state is a giver of support rather than a receiver. It’s time to change that. Giving without receiving is an unsustainable practice: if you give all of your time and energy away, you won’t have any left to give. But if you allow yourself a respite with some help, you can re-fill your tank so you can keep moving forward.

So how do you ask for help?

Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish. Which ones are easy for someone else to pick up? Which ones do you want to do? Leave this list somewhere easily accessible and when someone calls check the list and let them know what you need. Also try to get comfortable reaching out rather than waiting for a friend to call. Your friend’s phone call might not coincide with your crisis.

Have you ever had a really stressful week and found yourself with the flu the next? Your stress level has a huge influence on your immune system. Imagine how your body is reacting to the stress from the full time job of caregiving! When you’re afraid of appearing weak by asking for help with a couple of tasks, think about how much help you will need if you get sick by taking on too much.

The help you need may not only be with tasks and responsibilities. Be aware that as a caregiver you are prone to loneliness, depression, and fatigue. If you feel like you may need some emotional support, don’t be afraid to ask for it. It can be from a friend, relative, therapist or support group. Use your computer as your lifeline—if it’s the middle of the night and no one is available, go online and reach out. Check out our forums and chat rooms. Even if no one responds immediately, it is a relief to get it off of your chest.

Take it from us: we wouldn’t have gotten through the rough times if we didn’t ask for a little help. You are not alone in this journey, we’re coming with you.

CARESolutions-25

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

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14 Comments

  1. All great responses and I agree. Why ask when you know you’ll be rejected? Where are these generous souls who want to help? I’ve been caregiver for 3 decades now and it was very rare to have someone help and if they did they were not available to help again. That’s the real truth about caregiving.

    Reply
  2. It’s not hard to ask .. but it is hard to get most of the time .. sometimes there are no answers and the help is bound up in red tape and rules made by people that don’t understand the core of the problems caregivers face ..
    there are too many ” dead Ends” and brochures and phone numbers with no real answers .. you get referred and referred with no end or solution

    Reply
  3. It’s not hard to ask .. but it is hard to get most of the time .. sometimes there are no answers and the help is bound up in red tape and rules made by people that don’t understand the core of the problems caregivers face ..
    there are too many “ dead Ends” and brochures and phone numbers with no real answers .. you get referred and referred with no end or solution

    Reply
  4. In my state you have to wait and wait and wait, still waiting….

    Reply
  5. In my state you have to wait and wait and wait, still waiting….

    Reply
  6. When a diagnosis is initially made or an acute situation happens, people come out of the woodwork to offer help. But as a chronic illness or disability takes hold, there comes isolation. In the midst of the chaos, it is somewhat impossible to cultivate a relationship where one is comfortable asking for help. By the time a caregiver asks, he/she may be desperate. If you are asked or if you offer to help, follow through with the commitment. Please.

    Reply
  7. When a diagnosis is initially made or an acute situation happens, people come out of the woodwork to offer help. But as a chronic illness or disability takes hold, there comes isolation. In the midst of the chaos, it is somewhat impossible to cultivate a relationship where one is comfortable asking for help. By the time a caregiver asks, he/she may be desperate. If you are asked or if you offer to help, follow through with the commitment. Please.

    Reply
    • “Isolation in the midst of chaos.” Annnnnd you just described my life right now. ❤️ Nailed it.

      Reply
  8. Because you don’t get it when you beg so why ask?

    Reply
  9. Because you don’t get it when you beg so why ask?

    Reply
  10. This is a GREAT post, Ali! Thank you so much – sharing widely now.

    Reply
  11. What if no one asks if they can help? That’s my problem….. I’m here 24/7, if someone would ask if they could come stay here for a little while for me to get out, I might take them up on it, but nobody offers that….. It’s hard…..it’s been 3 years….. A lot of people say….call me if you need anything….. But that’s not the same as a real offer….

    Reply

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