I wouldn’t have made it without Gaurav if there wasn’t this massive support system that came forward to help me.
Asking for help when it mattered, went against my nature. As a child, I’d seen my mother struggle on alone and be ferociously independent. Somewhere in my subconscious, asking for help was a weakness. And so I did things myself, no matter how much effort it took.
But with Gaurav’s passing I was just unable to function normally. My counsellor said my brain had chosen to respond to trauma with a ‘freeze’ mode. I could not process information, could not remember the simplest of things, and was unable in general to live a day-to-day life. Whatever energies I had, I focused on the baby project.
It was clear I needed help.
And I was clueless on how to ask for it! I was unable to frame a sentence that began with “Could you help me….”
I was worried that I will take on too many obligations, and that I’ll lose friendships if people think I’m becoming a pile on. Then a friend put it in perspective for me. He said, “don’t shy away from asking for help. Take it even if it feels like an obligation. You need it right now to get back up on your feet. And when you do, we all know that you’ll pay it back manifold. So take help and get going“.
And I’m glad I took his advice.
Trauma does strange things to a person, it changes us at a fundamental level. And even if you have been a strong person throughout – it can leave you dealing with phases of extreme helplessness.
I am fortunate that our friends and family stepped up and took control where I couldn’t. But I also know that there are others who are not so fortunate. People want to help, but it’s difficult for them to know what you need help with. They are also hesitant – they don’t want to disturb you in an emotionally vulnerable state; they don’t want to add additional stress.
So you need to help them, help you.
You need to tell them what you want. It could be the simplest of things:
“My head hurts, could you press it for a while please?”
“I am running out of groceries, do you think you could help me get some for this week?”
Even, “I’m running a bit short on funds, do you think you could help me out till next week? I’ll pay you back.” is ok.
I’ve learnt that there is no shame in asking for help.
I’ve learnt that in some situations that’s the only way to survive…
So step up, and ask for what you need to stay strong.