Friday, 19 September 2014

With a little help from my friends

Yesterday was a Bad Day. It started off OK, but after popping out with the Little One for a couple of hours, I found myself very sore, completely exhausted and pretty grumpy. As I heard myself barking unreasonable orders at my toddler, I realised all was not well. My husband came home from work later than expected and returned to a messy house with a fractious wife and son. By the time he had cooked dinner it was way too late for the Little One, who was exhausted by the time he got to go to bed. I sat with a grey cloud over my head thinking about how rubbish the afternoon had been. Great!

Days like yesterday happen sometimes - you feel rubbish in your mind and body and every task becomes a huge problem. My chest infection still hasn't cleared so I can't take my proper medication; the result is that I'm back to pre-diagnosis symptoms. It's annoying, but over recent weeks God has given me the grace to be dealing with it well. And then yesterday happened.

I'm very thankful for a faithful friend who, after hearing my dramatic account of yesterday's traumas, asked me this morning, "How did you deal with it?" For me, that question showed me the key to whether I go to bed having had an Awful Day or not.

The reason that I was so stressed by how I felt was that I was trying to do it alone. Despite overcoming many fears (and a huge amount of pride) about asking for help this year, there are still moments when stoic endurance seems best to me. My friend's question made me realise that I didn't deal with it. Refusing to get support meant nothing could change yesterday afternoon.

But today I realised I could be different. Having slept little overnight and still feeling physically rotten, I texted my mum, mother-in-law and two good friends, all of whom have helped look after the Little One today. I've been able to sleep, rest and eat properly. I've also been able to think through yesterday's events and what they mean for me.

Asking for help does mean eating my pride. It also means choosing to believe that friends and family value my health above their comfort - something I know is true. I don't know why the though of inconveniencing someone bothers me so much. If a friend asked me for help, I would always relish the opportunity. It's funny how we judge ourselves so differently to others.

Another thing I'm learning it's that letting people help you can benefit them as well as you. As I've let my mum and some close friends do my hoovering, look after the Little One and give me lifts, I can feel our relationships deepen. When I'm at my most vulnerable, I'm also most real. And who doesn't want a real friend? Spending extra time with people also gives us more opportunity to chat about how they are. I hope I can be a good friend by listening, and hearing about their lives helps me become less focused on my own issues.

So, it wasn't a great experience, but here's what I'm taking from my Bad Day:

  1. Ask for help when you need it. There are wonderful people who I trust and who I know want the best for me.
  2. It's not always a big deal. While a task might involve pain and difficulty for me, it is probably easy as pie for someone else. So asking them to do it for me isn't as big a deal as I imagine. Cleaning the bathroom might be a marathon to me, but I need to remember my perception is a little warped at the moment.
  3. Warning signs. It's not OK to be unreasonable with the Little One. Losing it with him is a sure-fire indicator that it's time to ask for some help. Barking crossly is not allowed!
  4. When the boot's on the other foot... When someone asks me for help, I need to recognise the privilege this is, and honour their request, if I can.


  1. Asking for help is something I struggle with even after 9 years of living with RA. That said, I have to tell you- I have a 27 year old son who I am incredibly proud of. He has grown into a terrific young man. There are times when I- and all parents- bark at their children. There are times when life in general gets to us and we are tired, angry or irritable- even irrational. There are times when the kids stretch our patience to the breaking point. Heck, even my puppies do that and they don't act up (intentionally) or talk back! That's not our illness talking- that's just being a parent. You will find that unless it is constant- they don't remember it as much as we do. When mine left home I felt like he was a pretty darned good kid perhaps in spite of us as parents. Now he is the step-parent to two beautiful children and when he called me one night, thoroughly frustrated and said "I don't know how you did this! You made it look easy!" I sat down and cried and let go of all of the "parent guilt". I realized that we were okay parents. Oh, there are still things that I might have done differently, but we are all only human and unless we are well and truly abusive, our kids love us- wart and all.

    1. Thanks for sharing Julie - encouraging to hear!

      I'm just aware that when I get frustrated by the restrictions caused by my RA I'm a lot more short-tempered. But you're right, in the main the Little One receives lots of love and patience :)