A Helping Hand

Our greatest lessons often reveal themselves in times of despair, and the past few months have certainly been challenging in terms of my journey with Parkinson’s. My health steadily declined; I became less and less mobile, energy levels plummeted, my anxiety was out of control, and I was basically losing the ability to manage my own body and do even the simplest of tasks.  All of this left me feeling isolated, devastated and extremely vulnerable. I therefore segregated myself from others so that I could hide my imperfect body and the symptoms that were becoming more and more difficult to hide.  I had lost myself.

However, everything that happens to us has the potential to help us to grow, and this was not a wasted experience. I realised how deeply grateful I was for the support of those who love and care for me, they caught me when I fell. This very difficult time in my life reminded me how incredibly lucky I was to have these kind and loving people in my life.

I also learned that I needed to ask for help, I never want to be a burden to others and so I find it hard to accept help or to even ask for it. However, we all need help at times, to varying degrees depending on our circumstances, and needing help does not make you weak. I consider myself to be very resilient and have always been able to bounce back from life’s challenges but sometimes you just can’t deal with things on your own, and this was one such time. Life got better when I expressed how bad things were and got help. Others don’t know what you need unless you ask, and they can’t be expected to read your mind, so just ask for help.

I am surrounded by kind and caring people who are concerned about my wellbeing, they gladly gave up their time to help me and never made it feel like a chore or like they resented me. They wanted nothing from me, and despite their own commitments they just wanted to help.

People are often afraid to ask someone if they need help as it may not always be wanted. I would advise that you simply ask what support is needed, those with chronic illnesses are often trying to hold on to what independence they do have, and it is important not to disempower them.  The offer of practical support can be invaluable; things like taking the dog for a walk, going to the shop, or dropping over a cooked meal can be a great help. Just listening to someone and creating space to allow them to articulate what they are going through is equally important, this can provide a sanctuary where they don’t have to be pretend to be fine. Ask questions to understand, offer your time and presence, be patient, don’t judge, and just make the person feel recognised and encouraged.

Maya Angelou – ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel’.

Having been on the receiving end of such kindness, it is important for me to ‘pay it forward’. I will endeavour to help others more and to leave my little corner of the world better than it was. Service is a good way to take our minds off our own problems and gain some perspective, it lifts our mood, and it makes life more meaningful.  Some days this kind gesture might just be a text, phone call or a compliment, but it might have a huge impact on the recipient, and it may help them more than you can imagine.

The darkest time of the night is immediately before the dawn, and thankfully my health is starting to improve again. I will keep going, but I cannot do it alone. I am blessed with a great partner, family, and friends, and I truly treasure them. I never lose sight of how lucky I am. Hard times will come to me again, but so will my support team…   

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8 Comments

  1. Morning Melanie

    I woke up this morning feeling sorry for myself. I am on the onset of menopause.
    I wake up every morning with ringing in my ears as menopause can bring tinnitus, (who knew?).
    The pain in my feet is so sore that it wakens me several times during the night due to a lack of collagen in my muscles, (again who knew another gift of menopause and age?).
    I’m on my second period this month and generally feel exhausted. 26 positive cases of Covid this week alone in school including 3 staff is an added stress.
    Turning 50 wasn’t an issue for me. Wrinkles and grey hair would never get me down. The health issues that come with age is exhausting as I continually seek answers and help.

    Melanie your article this morning was just what I needed to get my shit together and to stop feeling sorry for myself.

    I am playing some gentle background music to drown out the ringing in my ears. I’ll do my foot stretches, exercises and rub some CBD oil on them. I’ll take some painkillers for my period pains and get the dog and go for a nice walk.

    Thanks Melanie….. there’s a reason why you are in my life

    Mairead xx

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    1. Mairead, this comment warms my heart and thanks for sharing. Sending so much love your way. Thinking of you xx

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  2. Your blog has helped me so much this morning. I’ve been struggling a lot with my own mobility lately and recently had to ask for help at work, knowing that either of my ankles could give way and collapse at any time has not been easy for me to come to terms with. It all came to a head a couple of weeks ago when I realised I was really struggling and I was going to continue to injure myself, I needed to ask for help. It didn’t immediately seem like it was a good idea but after a week of support at work it has made a difference even just a little but it all adds up. I had started to feel sorry for myself and ask “why me” but thank you for reminding me to look at my cup half full not half empty. I was able to bring my daughter to football training all be it waiting in the car but still I was able to make sure she didn’t lose out because of my ankle problems. Yes I might look like an old granny with my crutches and dodgy ankles but I’m not willing to let it define me. Counting my blessings and will try my best to di so everyday. Love your pay it forward plan. Its the little things that make the biggest difference. Sending you a big hug 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

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    1. Catherine, I didn’t realise how bad things were. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I really appreciate your comments. If I can do anything at all please let me know. We’re long overdue a catchup xx

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  3. Sane here Melanie, work can be very isolating at times, rushing constantly to meet the next class or deadline. We defo need a good catch up. I’m here for you anytime huni. 😘😘😘😘😘😘😘

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  4. No matter how low you go, you always manage to put a positive spin on life, and help others re the replies you got! Glad your on the up again – where would we be without family and friends! God Bless x

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