It’s hard for me to ask for help. So hard that it almost never happens, at least not until it’s too late and I’m seething with anger or overwhelmed from exhaustion. Usually my reluctance to ask for help starts from a well-meaning place. I don’t want to impose on others, or I genuinely want to help people. Sometimes though it comes from a hidden selfish desire – I want people to see me in a certain way, to know that they can count on me no matter what, or to see me as some sort of multi-tasking marvel that has it all together. But beneath these complicated and misguided intentions, the real reason I find it so hard to ask for help is because I want to be in control. And this desire for control is driven by anxiety.
Bipolar disorder and anxiety seem to go hand in hand. And it’s little wonder when our moods are in constant flux. It can feel like we never know what’s coming next. When I’m depressed I’m anxious because I feel like everything is hopeless. When I’m manic I have less acute anxiety, but more of an overall uneasiness that things are soon going to end badly. And when I’m stable I deal with the constant anxiety that things could go badly – that I could become depressed or manic again. And even when bipolar symptoms are not at the forefront of my mind, simply dealing with the day to day stress of life is enough to keep me at an elevated baseline of anxiety.
So instead of asking for help when I need it, I let my anxiety convince me that I need to do everything so that I remain in control. It’s the embodiment of that old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
But this is the worst possible way to handle my anxiety! Appointing myself as a martyr in the name of control or some illusion of perfection only serves to add to my anxiety, my desire for control, and my unwillingness to ask for help. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken by surrender.
In order to surrender to this incredibly scary feeling that I must be in control, I have to practice humility. In this age of social media and constant oversharing (for example, the blog I’m writing right now), humility is not something that is encouraged. We are told to share our every thought, post our beautifully edited selfies, and to “just do you”. But all of this creates a selfishness and further anxiety to at least appear like we have it all together. And asking for help is not part of that paradigm. But as people dealing with the very messy, painful, sometimes beautiful world of bipolar disorder, asking for help is the best way we can help ourselves.
I am now on a mission to ask for help when I need it. Surrendering my ego, accepting that I am not in control of everything nor ever will be, and practicing humility are all ways that I am learning to do this. It’s part of a better adage – “Let go and let God.”
So the next time you are struggling to ask for help, try to remember these four things:
- Ask for help before you feel overwhelmed
- Don’t be afraid of imposing on people – it’s up to them to say no if they need to
- Remember that there is no one way of doing something – just because it’s not done “your way” doesn’t mean it won’t be done right
- Trying to control everything does not ease anxiety, but asking for help can
What are some other ways you have learned to let go of control and ask for help?
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community