Reaching Out is Not Weakness

Reaching Out is Not Weakness

by Gail Schuster, LICSW, ASCN

My client, Jane, was devastated to learn that her husband, Dave, had Parkinson’s disease. Dave was having difficulty speaking and feeding himself, but Jane knew that as the disease progressed, the symptoms could worsen.

Jane was embarrassed by Dave’s symptoms and didn’t want other people to see him that way, so she began making excuses to avoid dinners out with friends. Rather than trusting their friends and accepting their support, Jane and Dave withdrew. And because they withdrew, they had to deal with the progression of Dave’s disease alone.

When we face serious health conditions, even those that are normal byproducts of aging, they interfere with our concept of ourselves and our perception of our abilities. This can be frustrating and depressing, and it is tempting to hide these frustrations by hiding our condition.

But times like this are exactly when we need our friends and family the most. When life presents challenges, the worst thing we can do is pull back from our support network and community. After we withdraw, our challenges may continue to grow more severe, making it even harder to re-connect.

We might feel uncomfortable asking our friends and loved ones to help, but if people really care about us, they take us as we are. We shouldn’t prejudge that our friends and family would be unwilling to help. Sometimes we’re hesitant to ask for help, only to find that our friends would have had their feelings hurt if they had not been asked. When we are the one needing help, we may forget what an honor it can be to serve those we love.

Isolating ourselves as Jane and Dave did can lead to depression and anxiety. People need people. Caring for others, and allowing them to care for us, are part of what makes us human, and this does not change when we age or face new challenges.

Counseling from CJFS is confidential, and it is often covered by insurance. To learn more, visit https://cjfsbham.org/our-mission/professional-counseling/ , email jfs@cjfsbham.org or call 205.879-3438.