I usually make a point not to talk about personal things in my blog. I want this to be a place that supports what you all are feeling or struggling to feel. Occasionally I throw in life-event info (like cancer or termination), but I try to keep it fun and magical.
Lately, though, I have been struggling with a family matter that makes me want to scream out to the world, “take CARE of yourself, damnit!”
It’s a topic that is a sensitive one, for some people will say, “you don’t know what it’s like to be chronically depressed/diabetic/incapacitated”. True enough. But I also know people who are/have been depressed/diabetic/incapacitated and have taken good care of themselves despite their setback.
I have a family member who stayed in one state while my family (and others) moved to others throughout the years. He/she insisted on staying alone in the home where they grew up.
I understand that.
But this same family member does not take care of themself, and I am in the process of cleaning out a second hoarder, mouse-infested house. After a stint in the hospital he/she is now in a nursing home, with hopes of getting better and eventually moving up by us.
I understand that, too.
I also understand that I’m 67 years old, too old to be a babysitter for someone who is 58. I am recently retired, working on my own health issues, and living on a reduced budget.
What I don’t understand is — how does someone get in such a depressing, messy, confused state over and over again?
Do we fall over the fence and keep tumbling down the hill until we hit rock bottom? Do we even know we are tumbling? Or hitting bottom?
People who are alone with their miseries tend to not believe half of what is happening to them. It’s peripheral vision, and it happens to all of us. Have a trait that someone complains about? A house condition that is always questioned? Don’t think about it. Tell yourself it’s not as bad as everyone around you says it is. And cut them off if they don’t stop nagging you.
This is why I believe everyone should have a support system. And not be afraid to use that support system.
God/Zeus/the creator did not create man to be the do-all, be-all being we strive to become. We all need help. I look back in my life and see spots where someone took time to pick me up and help me turn my life around. And it worked.
Sometimes all we need is a little help. A little support. Sometimes it’s family and friends, other times we rely on the system. Unfortunately, most come up short to the real problem.
This family member insisted he/she was busy, doing fine, going out with friends, visiting the library. We are 100 miles north from them, so we got together on birthdays and holidays and the occasional fishing trip. Others contacted by phone, kept in touch. This family member showed no interest in living closer to those who kept asking them.
I can do it myself. I don’t need anyone. Or anyone’s help.
He/she wound up in the hospital with a diabetes level of almost 1,000 (normal is 100). He/she had salmonella and has wounds from passing out and laying on the bathroom floor for two days before anyone found them.
I’m not sharing this story to make you feel sorry for us. I’m sharing this story to ask you to check up on those you know, even if they insist everything is okay. Go have coffee at their house or invite yourself for lunch. You don’t have to hang you with them every week, but get involved in their lives.
It will save both of you a lot of guilt and bad feelings and shoulda/coulda moments for the rest of your lives. I know I wouldn’t be living in a swirl of angst if both sides had worked together more.
And don’t be afraid to accept help. Or ask for help. If the shoe were on the other foot, you know you’d help in a heartbeat and not think twice about it. Those who care about you feel the same way.
No one has to go through this crazy mess called life alone.
13 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid To Ask”
Thank you my friend. Better to help at any point in a disaster than never help at all.
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It is said that the work occurs between therapy sessions. We never know the good we do – for the most part, anyway. I think you did good.
Well my friend, when you are as old as we are, you have a lot of life experience ! Not all good.
I hope this is the last round of shock therapy for me. If I have encouraged one person to open up and ask for help, I’ve achieved my goal.
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I guess the first time we come across something like this shocks us to the core. I’m learning. Sounds like you did too.
It’s hard altogether, I think. When people act oddly for a long time we shrug it off to “Oh, that’s them!” and don’t realize the depths of their problems. Best to you in all of this.
I think they can’t help it, that is a sort of mental illness, as there are many different sorts of illnesses, my dad was bipolar for over 30 years and it was horrible at times, when he felt good he stopped taking his medication which resulted in serious problems.
Yes, my friend. This is so true. He denied his illness and went so far as to stock his home with candy and cakes. His high sugar and passing out was as big a cry for help as I’ve ever seen. Im glad we found him before it was too late. I vow not to put my kids through that.
Thank you so much for sharing. I know its not easy to ask for help or work from a point of need, and I’m sure my family member didn’t fully realize what they were going through. I feel bad that we all weren’t more active in keeping an eye on them..especially when this hoarder thing happened once before. But its harder when you live far away and both are working and involved with your own families. It will all work out. But I know I will do my best to keep talking to those around me and listen to them when they start noticing my mistakes.
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I’m not sure its very helpful, but not taking care of yourself affects more than just yourself. Thank you for reading.
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Some people cannot be helped as they won’t let you, you can talk to them, advise them, whatever. Then they end up in hospital but they don’t want to listen to their doctor, go back home, end up in hospital again….it is so sad but it happens a lot and there is nothing we can do unless they finally accept help.
Like you, I don’t like to air my laundry, but there are simply times we need to get it outside of ourselves – on paper, online, with a friend. In reality, their reality is beyond our comprehension. It just IS. I worked for awhile in a home for schizophrenic patients who were in transition from institution to independent living. One explained her world to me. “I am seeing a lot of bubbles right now. I know they aren’t there, but they are very real to me.” That sort of gave me a good insight in realizing my reality may be very different than another’s. It is easy when it is pleasant – such as the bubbles – but so difficult and painful when someone you love is in very bad shape. Best to you in all of this.
Thank you for this very helpful post, Claudia.