There’s No Shame in Asking for Help

"A Helping Hand". 1881 painting by E...

I have always been very independent.  As a very young (and short) child, I would use household objects as tool in order to reach the light switches so that I would not have to depend upon anyone else.  Overall, I believe that this trait has served me well.  Until I got divorced, that is.  Those first few weeks were hell on my body.  I could not eat, causing my already slim frame to waste away to nothing.  My ribs stood out in relief along my back.  My body was racked with tremors, the anxiety too much for mere flesh and bones to contain.  I did not sleep; my body refused to rest.

Those around me encouraged me to try medication.  I resisted.  I was determined to do this alone, without the aid of a pharmacy.  Eventually, my body made the decision for me as days moved into weeks and I saw no improvement.  I ended up with some substantial medication to help me eat and sleep (300 mg Trazadone, if you’re keeping count…and I could still push through that on many nights).  I found peace with my decision to accept pharmaceutical assistance.  Those pills allowed my body to function for the first 8 months.  I let them go when I was able to go solo again.

There is no shame is asking for help.  We accept the fact that those at the at the end of life and those at the beginning of life require assistance, yet we somehow believe that adults should be able to be independent.  Divorce is the death of one life and the infancy of another.  You will need help.

Here are three sources of help you may find you need:

1) Therapy

Depending upon your situation, your prior coping skills, and your support system, you may be in need of therapy.  That is not a sign of weakness or a sign that you are crazy.  You are going through one of the most stressful events that one can endure and you may not be prepared to handle it on your own.  A therapist can be your guide down the road to healing.  Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and different people until you find what works for you.

2) Medication

I had to face the difficult lesson that sometimes you can’t fix your body through sheer will.  Medication may need to be investigated if you are unable to sleep or eat for a significant period or if sadness or anxiety are completely overwhelming.  I know I was afraid of triggering dependency, as I felt that I was in a very vulnerable place.  I discussed this with my doctor and so medications were chosen that were not considered high risk for abuse.

3) Time

Divorce is exhausting.  Adding to that, you have to adapt to your new responsibilities, navigate the court system, and somehow find time to process the whole mess.  This is a time when taking some leave from work is acceptable; your self-work needs to take priority for a while.  If you are parent, ask someone to watch the kids so that you can have some time alone.

It is far better to temporarily suffer the embarrassment and discomfort of asking for help than to permanently suffer in silence.  Ask for a hand, and let it guide you through.

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6 thoughts on “There’s No Shame in Asking for Help

  1. I’m always surprised when people believe that it’s weak to ask for help during divorce or after another huge loss. I think, in some ways, it’s a form of arrogance to believe that we are fully equipped and trained to address life’s most stressful moments. We are a society that focuses on the happy endings. We shelter our children from harsh realities as we were sheltered. Very, very few of is adequately equipped to handle enormous loss entirely on our own.

    I do think, however, that there are some very poor doctors who will prescribe meds with no other support and even more poor therapists who do not serve their clients well, so I commend your encourgement that people search for assistance that best suits them and feels “right.” I would second that and encourage people to persevere even if the first or second doctor or therapist doesn’t “fit.” Taking care of ourselves in that time is crucial and important for everyone around us, both those we have to care for and those who care about us. Investing some time in that endeavor is neither wasteful nor weak. 🙂

  2. Only a truly humble person has the ability to ask for help and accept it. There is no need of resisting help to the point of being beaten down by whatever it is at the time. Help from others and helping others are equally important in life. Both have been a saving grace during my lifetime.

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