Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

asking for help

I have a difficult time asking for help.  Help in all its various forms.  When I was in third through eighth grades, I rode to school with my father since he was a teacher in the same building, and I’d have my school bag and a gym bag and my saxophone and I wouldn’t allow him to carry anything for me, and I hated that he would have to open the door for me.  I was fiercely independent, and prided myself on not relying on anyone.

I think some (a great deal) has to do with the early childhood trauma and learning that it was not safe to trust adults.  As I grew older, that morphed into “It’s not safe to trust anyone” which automatically included accepting help that was offered and asking for help when I needed it.  Then there was a period of time when I was just beginning medication and was in and out of the hospital for depression and self-harm, and I in allowing a couple of people in, I dropped all walls and couldn’t really maintain healthy boundaries, and then placed my trust in people who really shouldn’t have had it in the first place.  This list includes not only peers, but people who were in positions of authority and in two cases, treatment professionals.  

Now I have a healthier sense of boundaries and respect for other people’s needs and space, and I’ve gotten better at asking appropriate people for help if I need it but, as I said, it’s still difficult.  For example, I would rather have a trunk full of recycling and and additional two bags in my kitchen that also need to be taken to the recycling place, but instead of asking someone to help with these, I’ll wait until the restrictions from my surgery loosen up and I’m able to lift more and reach more, thus enabling me to throw the box into the dumpster and reach into the depths of my trunk to retrieve the cans and bottles that fell out of the boxes.  I hate that feeling of dependency that comes when I ask for help.  

But I have, both materially and immaterially.  Yesterday, two friends with a jeep took me to Target so I could get a sofa/bed for my spare room.  They were my heros for the day, even if they came with self-imposed guilt.  And recently, my therapist told me he was going to take off the week before classes started, and impulsively, acting on my gut instinct, I asked him if I could see him twice the following week because I was having a difficult time adjusting to the “new normal” of having ARVD and an ICD.  I’m not sure I could have done that in the past.  

This semester will be . . . interesting.  I’m not fully healed from my surgery yet.  I don’t have my full energy back and there are restrictions on lifting and movement.  I somehow think that I’m going to have to ask for help at various times throughout the semester.  I hope I’m up for the challenge.


August 23, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, heart, recovery, self harm, therapy, trauma | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Good Morning Alexis and all:

    I need some advice and I’m hoping I can get some feedback from some of your past experience. I was inpatient in January and did IOP until about May. My degree is in Marketing so the company I was with when I went in the hospital had me on disability; however, I was laid off because my doctor said I wasn’t ready to go back to work when my disability ran out. Which was a not such a bad thing because the job was contributing to my depression. My problem now is that I’m looking to start interviewing and I have a gap of unemployment from Jan to present, I don’t want to mention disability because I don’t want to be stigmatized and the new employer be warey. What are some things that I can say to keep the questions from the new employer at bay?

    Thank you for listening and I hope you guys can help.


    Comment by Nichole Kilby | August 28, 2009 | Reply

    • Nichole, I’ve faced this problem with both employers and on school applications for my Master’s and PhD programs. Generally, it is acceptable to say, “I was recovering from a medical condition that prevented me from working.” They are not supposed to ask you anything further than that, and if they do, all you have to say is that it was a medical condition which required a lot of rest. Give them as little details as possible. “medical condition” generally tends to keep people at bay because they see your unwillingness to name the specific condition.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | August 30, 2009 | Reply

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